Troy Clarkson

Arts Alive, the three-day celebration of the arts held annually in Falmouth Village, is “way more than art,” according to Arts Falmouth board member Lee Geishecker. According to its website, “Arts Falmouth is a non-profit, membership organization celebrating and promoting arts and culture in and around Falmouth.” That simple but wide-reaching mission includes organizing the Arts Alive festival each year.

The festival is far more than a gathering of artisans in Falmouth’s historic and vibrant downtown—but it is certainly that. It is more than a kickoff-to-summer event that brings thousands of visitors to Falmouth Village—but it is certainly that. It is more than a showcase of the abundance of musical talent in our midst and the opportunity for more than 50 performers to demonstrate their musical acumen—but it is certainly that.

Arts Alive is all of those things, and so much more. Now in its 18th season, Arts Falmouth has been bringing smiles to the faces of thousands of dancers, singers, and shoppers since its inception, providing a venue not only for some of our gifted locals and others to showcase their talents, but also a venue for families and friends to make memories. This year, however, the concept of making memories took on a whole new and more profound meaning for both the organizers and some of the attendees.

The event began with splendid weather and even better music. The more than 60 artisans were selling their wares, and local performers from Dawna Hammers to Sly Resolve were giving attendees something to surely clap and dance about. That was Friday. On Saturday, the day began with similar gusto, with Zumba guru Donna Skinner dancing her way into the hearts of many, thespian stalwarts from the Falmouth Theatre Guild offering a variety of show tunes, and the Moonlighters performing not once, but twice, bringing their big and bold versions of rock, pop and oldies to an enthusiastic crowd. That was just a sampling of the talent on display on the library lawn.

And, as board member and artisan herself, Lee reported that things then just went a bit awry. Lee, an accomplished local photographer, had finished up a bar mitzvah and two family portraits earlier in the week and took Wednesday to Sunday off to volunteer for the event. The Arts Falmouth board is all volunteers who dedicate hundreds of hours to make this event a success. Lee specifically called out the tireless efforts of volunteers Marilyn Rowland, Judith Currier, Wendy Ghelfi, and Deb DePunte for logging similar volunteer hours behind the scenes long before the performance tents go up.

So naturally, as Saturday afternoon rolled around, Lee and her team felt a sense of calm and accomplishment for all that had transpired. The amazing sounds of Puffy Elvis, another local favorite band featuring educators and education professionals, were just starting to play that funky music (pun intended—if you’re under 40, ask someone to explain.) It was to be a wonderfully fitting and entertaining end to a phenomenal day. That was until Lee, in her own words, “saw something really bad in the sky that’s wasn’t on the radar.” That something was a burst of heavy rain, destructive wind, and even some hail that turned Arts Alive into storm central, tossing some of the artisans’ goods around like confetti, damaging 10 of the tents on Shore Street extension, and even wiping out two of the legs in the main 30-by-60-foot tent. It should be noted, that while this tempest was whirling just yards away, the dedicated educators from Puffy Elvis continued to play. Meanwhile, back at storm central, Lee and her board members were faced with devastation.

As if on demand, some spectacular locals and friends of the arts, Rachel Greenfield, Don Parkinson and Chris Kazarian, showed up and helped clean up. Lee and her team worked until well past midnight, repairing tents, picking up artwork and handmade jewelry, and making the venue ready for Sunday’s version of this wonderful event. They succeeded, smiling and making memories in the meantime.

The next day, another amazing set of memories occurred, when the raffle prizes from the more than 30 local businesses were awarded. More than 1,000 tickets were in each bag for each prize, but when the numbers were pulled, people and their stories were woven together with Arts Alive in a tapestry of kindness and coincidence.

One prize winner, who won a package called “something fishy” that included lobsters from Cataumet Fish, clams from the Clam Man, and accessories from Eastman’s Kitchen Store, moved to Falmouth this week and had been discussing having a classic Cape Cod meal with her family this week. She noted that she had an ethereal feeling about Arts Alive and was moved by the music and talent.

Another winner, who won art supplies in a package called “Express Yourself,” has had a long road of recovery from a brain tumor and has taken up watercolors to express herself and to exercise her brain. The win brought tears to her eyes and joy to her heart.

Yet another winner took home the “Fine View of Falmouth” canvas print without even noticing the picture itself. She later realized that the print looked like it could have been taken nearly 100 years ago and reminded her of her family’s early days in West Falmouth. She, too, was moved to tears.

Thousands of raffle tickets sold. A few pulled. Several amazing stories.

Arts Alive was started to bridge the shoulder season for local businesses. It now is building bridges and making memories for people from sea to shining sea. It is indeed way more than art.

Mr. Clarkson may be contacted at votetroy99@aol.com and followed on Twitter @TroyClarkson59.

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