Susquehanna Summer Solstice Festival Returns to French Azilum June 16-18

Plein air painters for the 2022 Susquehanna Summer Solstice Fest at French Azilum included (front from left) Patrick McPhee, Brian Keeler, Jeff Mathison, (back) Carole Agusto,Elizabeth Lloyd, Janet Yeats, Jim Harridan, Steve Duprey, Rich Henry, Stacey Kelly, Susan Begnini-Landis and (not pictured) Dan Curry, Earl Lehman, Joy McMicken, Carlton Manzano and Simonne Roy.

Edited from submitted materials

Music, art, dancing, theater, and nature walks, along with environmental and historical presentations, can all be experienced in the beautiful riverside setting at the at the French Azilum historic site from Friday to Sunday, June 16 to 18. Fourteen bands will present music including blues, jazz, gypsy swing, folk and Irish. More than 20 artists from throughout the Northeast will compete for $4,000 in prizes. With the North Branch of the Susquehanna being designated as the River of the Year in Pennsylvania, what better location to celebrate the arts?

The Susquehanna Summer Solstice Festival (SSSF) that took place at the French Azilum historic site in 2022 was a true celebration of the arts. In its inaugural year, plein air artists, musical groups, singers, dancers, speakers and attendees came from Canada, Massachusetts, New York and Pennsylvania to participate and enjoy the experience. Feedback from attendees included, “Clarence Spady (featured singer/musician, below) was to die for!” “ The speakers were terrific!” “I was amazed at the quality and variety of the art featuring so many beautiful scenes from our area.”

The Festival Committee is planning many improvements for the coming year. The SSSF budget has increased from $12,000 to approximately $20,000. Highlights for the 2023 Festival will include:

  • Presentation of 15 bands at a newly created Labyrinth Theatre. A dance floor will be adjacent to the stage for those inspired to dance to the music.
  • The newly created paintings of 20+ Plein Air artists will be shown in Pavilion Gallery overlooking the River. The Sunday Awards Ceremony will present $4,000 in prizes to the winning painters of River, historic buildings, landscapes and more.
  • Guides leading walks along the Nature Trail, which received a face lift by volunteers donating over 200 hours of effort to remove invasive vines and autumn olive plants. The River is now clearly visible along the riverbank with eagles nesting across the way.
  • Kayaking, camping, campfires along the renovated Riverbank, a Heritage Site along the Susquehanna River Trail. A short paddle from Wysox to FA on Saturday morning, June 17.
  • Fathers Day (Sunday) celebration with Youth Music, the Wyalusing Swing Choir, Joe Jencks Irish music, Kayaking, Nature walks and possibly fishing workshops.

The weekend’s musical performances will start on Friday, June 16 at noon and end on Sunday afternoon. Friday is billed as “The Guitar Virtuoso Special,” featuring three internationally acclaimed blues and jazz groups. Included among the headliners are Little Toby Walker, a finger picking wizard and vocalist; The Erin McClelland Band, who has been a mainstay at the COTA Jazz Fest and the Deer Head Inn at Delaware Water Gap; and, topping the night off, award-winning blues artist Clarence Spady. Clarence recently completed a European tour with sold out performances in Austria and Switzerland.

Great regional bands will include the Dallas Carter Band from the Tunkhannock area, and The Pelotones, a swing dance band from Ithaca, NY, doing all originals. Other groups include local favorites The Wyalusing Swing Choir, as well as the alt group Snow Crow from Massachusetts. Zingology, a gypsy swing band, will be back for a second year offering selections from their newly recorded CD of Django Reinhardt-inspired tunes.

The Festival will present two well-known performers on the Celtic circuits in the States and Ireland. Emerald Ray, a virtuoso fiddle player, percussionist, songsmith and vocalist will make an encore performance at the Festival on Saturday night. On Sunday afternoon – Father’s Day – singer-songwriter Joe Jencks will perform his own brand of Irish-inspired tunes.

The event includes a plein air painting competition and exhibits featuring artists from throughout the northeast, who will be painting all week. On Sunday, they will compete for prizes at a newly constructed Pavilion Gallery offered by regional galleries, business, individuals and organizations. During the week, the painters will be seen capturing landscapes and scenes during special “paint-outs” in Wyalusing and Towanda.

To learn more about the event and see the full schedule, interested readers can log on to Tickets may be purchased on the site in advance for a weekend pass for $60 or $25 per day.

The festival will also be celebrating the Susquehanna with several outdoor events to coincide with the North Branch of the Susquehanna River being named 2023 River of the Year. On Sunday a youth music event will start late in the morning. Interested young musicians should contact the BCRAC to be put on the schedule. This family-oriented day is a great destination to coincide with Father’s Day.

Sponsors to date include Dandy Mini Marts, PS Bank, C&N Bank and The Dunn Group. For more information, contact the Bradford County Regional Arts Council at (570) 268-2787‬ or A free brochure will be available in late May.‬


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