A home-grown festival

BRYAN EATON/Staff photoJohn William Brown is on a committee that worked to bring more local vendors and local artists to locations on Inn Street during Newburyport’s Yankee Homecoming instead of out-of-town vendors and sales displays.

Yankee Homecoming is known as a weeklong event that caters to thousands of visitors.

But local artisans will get their due when the 59th edition unfolds this weekend.

A program called Inn Street Artisans Revival has been developed to make sure local artists, craftspeople and musicians get good billing in a valued local spot — Inn Street.

Organizers say attention to locals was championed because last year numerous vendors from national food chains and/or sales teams had prominent locations on Inn Street or Market Square.

Some local vendors expressed concern, pointing out that Yankee Homecoming started as an event by local talent.

So this year, Inn Street will be populated with many booths run by those from the Newburyport area.

“We want local artisans to have a good chance at success,” said John William Brown, a photographer who has spearheaded a greater recognition of local talent on Inn Street.

“The original vision of Yankee Homecoming was to feature Newburyport artisans, shops and food choices. We’d had great response to our idea of seeking nearby talent, and many locals will be setting up shop here.”

Yankee Homecoming starts Saturday and runs through Aug. 7.

Inn Street is a coveted locale for small businesses, and Homecoming organizers are encouraging the Inn Street Artisans Revival so local participants can find an audience.

Presentations will include appearances by talented youth artists. The Artisans Revival will also host representatives of art, crafts and healing arts.

There will be an Inn Street Farmers Market and Culinary Arts.

Paul Swindlehurst, general chair of Yankee Homecoming, said, “Last year we did receive some criticism from local businesses about the Inn Street programming, particularly regarding out-of-town vendors. This year we headed in a whole new direction.

“John Brown stepped in and has an amazing group of local artisans, performers and small businesses that will hew closer to the original intent of Yankee Homecoming — a home-grown festival.

“I’m thrilled that we are able to offer the Artisans Revival as an important, new tradition for YH.” 

Also, local nonprofit and humanitarian organizations will be hosted.

The “Revival” starts Saturday about noon with a sacred circle dance led by Ellen Kennedy.

Other artists and/or performers Saturday are scheduled to include: ArtyParty, with Diane Soares; Endless Energy, Jeff Cohen; Plum Island art, Sandra Turner; Amy’s Creations, Amy Sciuto; At the Beach, Darlene Grady Duggan; Golden Closet, Laura and Megan Golden; Angela Chiklis; Jafra, Deb Pynknowski; Fun Face Express (face-painting by kids); Ariana Bahret, lifeline practitioner; and culinary arts, at the nearby Greek Church, John Tasakirgis.

Brown will be offering high-end photos at his stand near Market Square. Many are artistic shots of the Merrimack River and other naturalist selections.

Organizers say that healing arts will be represented. 

Among those slated to participate include Roberta Horsman (crystal/healing stones); Kristin Robinson, reflexology; Laurie Perkins, animal and medium readings; Ariana Bahret, energy healing; and Michelle Lomasney, massage.

Diane Gronbeck, co-owner of the Brass Lyon gift shop at the base of Inn Street, said, “Another Yankee Homecoming is just about here, and all of us will be ready for the another year.

“Our store gets hundreds of visitors each day, and it will be a busy week for all vendors.”

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