Allentown Art Festival Begins!

June 8, 2012 Updated Jun 9, 2012 at 12:06 PM EDT

By WKBW Programming

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June 8, 2012 Updated Jun 9, 2012 at 12:06 PM EDT

BUFFALO, N.Y. ( WKBW ) Despite the rain, the Allentown Art Festival kicked off Saturday on Delaware Avenue, and surrounding streets in the Allentown section of Buffalo.

Mary Myszkiewicz talked with Channel 7's Linda Pellegrino on "AM/Buffalo" about the history of the festival, and what it means to Western New York.

If you are going, please send us your pictures to news@wkbw.com so we can show them on "Eyewitness News" and post them to wkbw.com.

The show runs until 6pm Saturday and Sunday. Here is more from the Allentown Village Website:

The Allentown Art Festival takes place in the Allentown Historic Preservation District of Buffalo, New York. Tens of Thousands art patrons visit the Festival to enjoy the beauty of Buffalo's weather in June, the charm and uniqueness of the Allentown area and the quality of the art and crafts presented by the over 400 juried exhibitors.

In Buffalo, New York, on one special weekend each June, it is indeed art that makes life for the tens of thousands of people who visit the Allentown Art Festival. Since its modest beginnings as a small art show in 1958, the Allentown has become not only Buffalo's urban rite, but a symbol for the enduring character of this re-emerging rustbelt region. It has earned an important place in Buffalo's cultural and social life and a national reputation for excellence.

The Allentown Art Festival is especially remarkable, having persevered and prospered for over 40 years largely due to the members of the Allentown Village Society, Inc., whose active number of unpaid volunteers has seldom grown beyond 30. Their labors have borne fruit beyond the annual Allentown Art Festival weekend and beyond the boundaries of the Allentown neighborhood of Buffalo.

Once, a small art show was a catalyst for the vibrant rebirth of the unique part of the city of Buffalo called "Allentown".

THE ALLENTOWN NEIGHBORHOOD

To understand the legacy of the Allentown Art Festival to the City of Buffalo, one should know the unique place that the Allentown community holds in the City.

Allentown occupies about one-half square mile near downtown Buffalo. Its origins date to 1827, when Lewis Allen purchased 29 acres of farmland along the then-northern border of the village of Buffalo. The cow path on his land eventually became Allen Street. The heart of Allentown lies at the intersection of Allen Street and Delaware Avenue, one of Buffalo's main thoroughfares.

Over the years, the Allentown neighborhood has been home to a number of famous Buffalonians, including Millard Fillmore, Samuel L. Clemens (Mark Twain), actress Katherine Cornell as a girl, and author F. Scott Fitzgerald in his childhood.

In 1901, Theodore Roosevelt was inaugurated President of the United States following the assassination of President McKinley at the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo. The site of the inauguration was the Ansley Wilcox Mansion on Delaware Avenue, just up the block from Allen Street. Today, the Wilcox Mansion is the Theodore Roosevelt National Historic Site, and Allentown, with its wealth of unique American architecture, is one of the nation's largest historic preservation districts.

In 1958, when the idea of an outdoor art show was no more than that, the Allentown neighborhood was in decline. There was no National Historic Site, no National Historic Preservation District, and not many people recognized the architectural treasures obscured by years of neglect. The Allentown Art Festival helped change that.

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