Portfest returns to unite community through the arts

Portfest returns to unite community through the arts
Young children play at one of the crafts tents at Portfest in 2021. (Photo courtesy of HEARTS of Port Washington)

Portfest, an annual springtime arts festival in Port Washington, is returning May 21 to bring the community together through arts and music.

The one-day festival is organized by HEARTS of Port Washington, a grant-making, local nonprofit organization that raises money to enrich the arts through programs. The organization funds program that can be found throughout the Port Washington public schools and in the broader community.

Eric Gewirtz, president of the organization’s board of directors, said HEARTS helps to bridge the gap for educators who may not have the funding from the district to provide certain arts programs.

Portfest is HEARTS’ signature fund-raising event with all proceeds going toward grant programs for the next grant cycle that starts in September.

Attendees are able to make donations to HEARTS at the festival to support their grant programs, but it is optional.

Portfest, which is free to attend, will be held at Seeber Field at Schreiber High School from noon until 4 p.m. In the case of rain, the festival will take place inside the high school.

The festival will include scores of activities, including button-making, tie-dying, recycled art and temporary tattoos. While admittance into the festival is free, these activities require tickets to be purchased.

A new arts and crafts activity specifically for preschool-aged children will be added to the festival’s lineup this year. This activity will be free and is hosted by local business OhMyGoodness.

Gewirtz said the festival has never had an activity geared specifically for this age group before but found it important due to the community’s growing population of young families.

“We know that so many young families have moved to town in the last couple of years,” Gewirtz said. “They’re all learning about Port Washington, the great Port Washington traditions and the things to do in town, so we wanted to create an experience that worked for them and something for younger children and little hands.”

Activities for the youngest Portfest attendees include a dirt and planting area in mini-compostable potters, a sensory table and a theatrical puppet class.

A local school ensemble performs at Portfest in 2021. (Photo courtesy of HEARTS of Port Washington)

Various local groups will also be performing on the two stages set up at the festival, with performances from school groups, Dance Arts Center and Bach 2 Rock.

A unique participatory dance event by the Berest Dance Center for a Maypole celebration will invite attendees to join and become a part of the performances as well.

“For us, it’s about bringing the whole community together,” Gewirtz said.

Food trucks will be on the field for attendees to purchase food from Rosie’s Grilled Cheese Truck, Yankee Doodle Dandy Chicken and Ralph’s Ices. Gewirtz said they opted for a mix of sweet and savory options to appease everyone’s palettes.

Portfest was started about 10 years ago, Gewirtz said, with a couple of years on hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Gewirtz said the festival in years past has drawn thousands of attendees who want to appreciate and engage with the arts on a beautiful sunny day, and he’s hoping that people will enjoy it to that degree again this year.

“To be a part of an effort to highlight and support and enrich the arts in the community…it means a lot to me to help share that with others and to give others an experience – whether they’re in preschool, or public schools or another community organization – but give a platform for those people to present the arts and for other people to discover what the arts have in store,” Gewirtz said.

Portfest was organized primarily by HEARTS board member Lisa Marschall and Fund-raising Co-Chair Beth Weisburd. The festival is also supported by local organizations, including the Peter and Jeri Dejana Foundation and the Gersh Family.

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