Volunteers fuel WaterFire success splash

DAVID DYE | Herald

Volunteers toss a concrete-filled bucket anchor into the Shenango River. An anchor chained to each of the 55 braziers holds it in position. Three floats on arms that extend from the basket in the center keeps the brazier afloat.

SHARON – Despite the rain and thunder early Saturday morning, a group of volunteers still gathered at the boat launch near Quaker Steak and Lube to assemble a series of braziers and put them in the water for next Saturday’s WaterFire festival in downtown Sharon.

Volunteers fuel WaterFire success shore crew

DAVID DYE | Herald

Volunteers gathered at the boat launch behind Quaker Steak and Luke Saturday morning to assemble and place the 55 floating braziers for WaterFire Sharon.

Getting the 55 braziers into the Shenango River is only one of the many jobs that depends on volunteers, and the help is always appreciated, said Karen Anderson, WaterFire Sharon’s land operations manager.

Making each WaterFire festival is a success takes more than 200 volunteers, she said. They help with everything from placing and removing the braziers each season to stacking wood, putting up signs or monitoring the children’s area during the events.

“Usually we have the volunteers work in shifts of about two hours, so if someone decides that they have some time and they’d like to help out, we’d be glad to find something for them to do,” Anderson said.

Volunteers fuel WaterFire success lit

JOHN ZAVINSKI | Herald file

Spectators line the Shenango River in Sharon as floating log-filled braziers are set ablaze during the August 2018 WaterFire Sharon. The two 2019 events will be Saturday and on Sept. 21.

This year, organizers expect there to be around 55 vendors in the artisan marketplace along and off State Street, with another 15 or so vendors in the food court between Chestnut and Railroad streets.

Booths and other activities will be set up starting at 2 p.m., and the braziers are lit from dusk to 11 p.m.

In keeping with this event’s “beach bash” theme, live music will be performed throughout the evening, including a Jimmy Buffet tribute band from about 6 to 8 p.m., as well as a steel drum band that will perform from 3 to 5 p.m. on land, and on the water for a “couple hours,” she said.

waterfire history walk IMG_2852.JPG

JOHN ZAVINSKI | Herald file

Brian Kepple, left, shares stories about the buildings along Vine Avenue in Sharon during a downtown Sharon history walk. Sharon Historical Society and Sharon Beautification Commission offer the tours during each WaterFire Sharon event, a festival that draws tens of thousands to Sharon every summer.

The Sharon Historical Society will be leading history walks along South Dock and Budd streets, starting at noon, 2 and 4 p.m. at the roundabout at Dock Street and East Connelly Boulevard.

There will be entertainment for kids as well. The children’s area will offer activities such as making bird feeders out of Joy Cone ice cream cones, a water table and planting sunflower seeds. Children will also receive a coloring book designed and provided by Elliott Lengel, of Lengel Brothers Farm and Market in Mercer.

Volunteers fuel WaterFire success regatta

DAVID DYE | Herald

A small regatta hauls WaterFire braziers into position in the Shenango River in downtown Sharon.

“He (Lengel) drew it, and the kids will be able to take it home with their planted sunflower seeds,” Anderson said.

Volunteers fuel WaterFire success shore2

DAVID DYE | Herald

Volunteers gathered at the launch behind Quaker Steak and Luke Saturday morning to assemble the 55 floating braziers for WaterFire next weekend in downtown Sharon.

At about 6 p.m. there will be a ceremony rededicating the repaired sculpture in George S. Warren II Park on South Water Avenue, followed by a ceremony commemorating a new mural of a labyrinth, which was painted on the ground next to the Reyers building along West State Street.

Instead of just looking at the labyrinth, Random Acts of Artists President Terry Polonsky said people will be able to walk to the 50 foot-wide labyrinth’s center and then out again.

Volunteers fuel WaterFire success paint

CORY BYKNISH | Herald

From left, Random Acts of Artists members Terry Polonsky, Gary Barnes, Sue Griffin and Wayne Rongaus lay down the background paint of a labyrinth they are creating on the ground before the Joel Bergner mural on the north side of Reyers Shoe Store in downtown Sharon. It will be dedicated Saturday. Below, the labyrinth design.

“They’re very interesting, because labyrinths are meditative, spiritual devices that give a little time to think and ponder things,” Polonsky said.

About five volunteers from Random Acts of Artists worked on the painting, which is expected to be completed by Saturday. While work was underway, Polonsky said several people stopped and asked what they were working on.

Volunteers fuel WaterFire success plan

CORY BYKNISH | Herald

These blueprints represent a labyrinth that will be painted by Random Acts of Artists near the Joel Bergner mural on the nouth side of Reyers Shoe Store building along West State Strteet in beautiful downtown Sharon.

“They were pleased to see something here, especially those who live in the area and see these things every day,” he said.

While there have been three WaterFire events annually since WaterFire Sharon began in 2013, this year marks the first time that there will only be two – this Saturday and again on Sept. 21. However, even if the number of festivals is decreasing, attendance is expected to increase, Anderson said.

Volunteers fuel WaterFire successv

DAVID DYE | Herald

A volunteer wades into the rain-swollen Shenango River below the Connelly Boulevard bridge Saturday morning, preparing braziers to be hauled by boat into position for WaterFire Sharon.

“We’re expecting a slightly larger crowd since there’s only two events, so probably around 18,000 to 20,000 people,” she said. “We’re fortunate in our area because, really, no matter where you park along East State Street in downtown Sharon, you’ll be right there at WaterFire.”

POTENTIAL VOLUNTEERS can sign up at waterfiresharonpa.org and clicking on the “volunteer” tab, or by calling 724-301-1868.

Like David L. Dye on Facebook or email him at ddye@sharonherald.com.