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Arts in Park avoids rain, raises money for library


GOUVERNEUR — What was supposed to be a day in the park Saturday turned out to be an arts and craft show at St. James Catholic School.

The 24th annual Arts in the Park to raise money for the public library was held indoors this year, due to rainy weather.

A majority of the 32 artists and craft vendors were set up in the school’s gym, while others lined the hallways.

Roxann M. Finley has been organizing Arts in the Park for 10 years. She said that although they always try to have it in the park, in the past 10 years, they’ve had to use the school three times.

“There are a lot valuable things here and a lot of hard work by all these artists and crafters,” she said. “It would be a shame to have it in the park, have them set up and then have a downpour. It’s a shame that today had to be nasty, but better safe than sorry.”

From hand-sewn, knitted or crocheted hat and mitten sets to watercolor paintings, handmade jewelry and woodcarved bowls, the room was full of local talent and library supporters.

Ethel I. Newconde, Richville, had a table set up in the gym with a colorful spread of winter hats, gloves and mittens, just in time for the changing season. She said she’s been knitting and crocheting for nearly 70 years and shows off her work each year at Arts in the Park.

“It’s nice when they have it in the park, but it’s nice to be inside on a day like today,” she said.

Shay L. Dygert, Gouverneur, had her oil paintings and watercolors of animals and portraits on display. She said that as it was her first year attending Arts in the Park, many people expressed interest in her work.

The show is put on by the Friends of the Library, a group of community members who volunteer with events and fundraisers for the Gouverneur Public Library.

“Not only does this support the library, but it supports local crafters, artists and vendors” said Linda B. Adams, director of the Library. “So, it’s really a group effort.”

Ms. Finley, who is on the library’s board of trustees, said that this event is one of the biggest Friends of the Library fundraisers of the year and usually brings in about $1,800.

Ms. Adams said that money is more important now than ever, since their 2013 budget was cut by $7,000.

“If the county says they’re not giving you any more money, there’s nothing you can do,” she said. “We cut back magazine subscriptions and haven’t replaced computers which are in desperate need of replacement.”

The event is free to the public each year, with the hopes that many who come will join the Friends of the Library group, or show support in other ways such as visiting their book sale down the hallway from the gym.

Joan F. Johnson, Gouverneur, has been a volunteer board member for 15 years. She was helping to manage the book sale during Saturday’s event at the school.

“We have good support and people make donations,” she said.

Retha H. Brown and Robin K. Yager helped to run the table at the entrance, selling raffle tickets and generating new memberships for Friends of the Library.

“The library is vital to our community,” Ms. Brown said. “It’s more than just books.”

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