CBS3 SummerFest: Manayunk Arts Festival Returning In Full-Force This Weekend For First Time Since 2019

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — It’s SummerFest Friday at CBS3, and we are on the move to Manayunk. Main Street is about to see more than a little foot traffic.

This weekend, it’ll be packed with artists for the Manayunk Arts Festival. It’s the 33rd year for the annual event, which features fine arts and crafts from across the country.

The arts festival is back in full force for the first time since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

“The Arts Festival put Manayunk on the map 33 years ago,” Manayunk Development Corporation Consultant Joan Denenberg said.

Every year since visitors have come to expect a turnout like this. A boon for Main Street artists like Diane Vaughn.

“It has been wonderful, I live for it. I’m frantically painting,” Vaughn said.

Vaughn’s impressionist dreamscapes stun those who walk into her gallery near Main and Rector Streets.

“A lot of people will stand there and look,” Vaughn said. “It’s like they’re basking in the sunshine.”

But, it was her daughter, Malika, who pushed her mom to follow her passion and open Soft Illusions Fine Art Gallery, after working in the School District of Philadelphia for more than 30 years as an art teacher.

“It makes me emotional just to think about it,” Malika said.

She is the co-owner of the Soft Illusions Fine Art Gallery.

“It’s so refreshing and satisfying to see other people react and respond and truly appreciate the work that she creates,” Malika said. “We are that dynamic duo, it’s a perfect team.”

Now, Malika runs the business and her mom creates the art.

“We are that dynamic duo, it’s a perfect team,” Malika said.

“My daughter calls it feel-good art and it makes me feel good that other people feel good,” Vaughn said.

You’ll recognize them this weekend outside the gallery along with the shop’s unofficial mascot, Miles.

“I do a lot of rings, I feel like that’s my specialty,” Vaughn said.

Jewelry, like Isabelle Ecker’s pieces, are always a favorite at the arts festival. A Philly girl herself, Isabelle, made her first silver ring at just 12 years old.

She immediately knew she was hooked for life.

“Seeing someone walk down the street and seeing them wear my piece, just gives me so much joy,” Ecker said. “I think people are ready to be out and shop and be around other people and I’m excited to share my work with everybody again.”

Her designs will be displayed near Main Street and Shurs Lane.

She’ll join 275 other artists from all over the country and world this year, with artwork in seven wide-ranging mediums.

“Glass, fiber, pottery, woodworking, photography, painting,” Denenberg said.

The Manayunk Arts Festival typically draws more than 150,000 visitors over two days and organizers expect this year’s crowd to be back to pre-pandemic levels.

“Looking at the art, being in Manayunk, eating at our restaurant, shopping at our stores, I think you’re going to see a lot of happy faces,” Denenberg said.

It’s going to be a huge weekend for Manayunk.

This will be the first street-closed arts festival since 2019. Of course, the festival was canceled in 2020 because of the pandemic and it was a very scaled-down version last year.

It’s safe to say these businesses and artists alike are ready to see the crowds back right in the middle of Main Street.

There is parking in the area, but not a ton of it. Organizers suggest biking or taking public transportation.

There will also be a shuttle this year.

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