Roberson revives outdoor arts festival

What so far has been a stellar month for outdoor arts festivals will wind up this weekend when Binghamton’s Roberson Museum and Science Center revives an old favorite … with a new attitude and a new name.

For years, Roberson Holiday was “THE great event of the summer,” said the museum’s executive director, Terry McDonald, recently, but the last Holiday, an outdoor fest filling the Front Street property, was more than a decade ago. Competing events and a decline in the quality of the arts and crafts contributed to its demise, she said.

However, McDonald continued, it is “mission relevant” for Roberson to “become an energetic hub for the community,” so the museum is giving outdoor arts festivals another try. The Two Rivers Fine Arts & Crafts Festival is a juried show although no awards will be given. The application and vetting process was designed primarily to make sure the items on display this weekend will be of the quality expected from Roberson, McDonald explained.

One reason that some quality artists and artisans became disenchanted with Roberson was that the museum was both charging booth/space rent and asking for a percentage of sales, whereas many other arts fests do either one or the other. This year, there will be a rental fee, but the40 participants do not have to share their profits.

Of course, if Roberson is trying to revive the well-loved Holiday concept, why not still call the festival “Roberson Holiday”? Because in the past several years, the word “holiday” has been associated with the “Home for the Holidays” winter event, and Roberson doesn’t want to confuse the brand, McDonald said. Also, “Two Rivers” plays off the museum’s location, at the confluence of the Chenango and Susquehanna rivers, and the museum’s recent, and very successful, “Confluence” exhibit.

The Two Rivers Fine Arts & Crafts Festival will be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday (Sept. 25) and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday (Sept. 26). There are no rain dates and no admission fee. For more information and a schedule of entertainment, check this week’s “Good Times,” or visit the “Press & Sun-Bulletin” website,

To share your memories of Roberson Holiday (either as an artist or an art lover) or to express your hopes for Roberson’s new venture, please join in the conversation in our comment area.

One Response to “Roberson revives outdoor arts festival”

  1. cyberbassdave Says:

    Another perfect fall day greeted visitors to the Two Rivers Arts and Crafts Festival on the grounds of the Roberson Museum. For the first time since 1994, the popular fall juried arts and crafts show returned, with a new name but the same high quality of crafts. About 40 artisans showed their works of painting, woodcraft, jewelry, pottery, photography and more.

    We saw a couple of artists we had noted last weekend at the Windsor Window on the Arts. In addition, Scott Griffin from Playing With Fire Glass Studio in Elmira explained how he and partner Kristin Deady make the intricate patterns in their glass pendants, a style we had never seen before. We chatted with photographer Vincent Collins about his nature shots, including photos of Finger Lakes waterfalls and several fall foliage scenes mirrored in a pond near Red Rock, Pa. We were really taken with the watercolor art of Carolyn Neidlinger of Bainbridge. Starting out an an oil painter, she switched to watercolors 20 years ago and has never gone back. Her outdoor scenes have a delicate, almost pointillist style. She admits French impressionism was a major influence, particularly Renoir. Her subdued pastel scenes would grace any room, foyer or office.

    The Roberson International Folk Dancers invited visitors to join them in their folk dance demonstrations. There were activities for kids, such as face-painting and “throwing” clay on a pottery wheel.

    It was good to see this fall arts festival return. Hopefully, it will grow back to the size and stature it enjoyed in decades past.

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