Leetonia Artisan’s Festival could be going medieval

LEETONIA–A medieval fantasy faire may be replacing the annual Artisans Festival in 2018.

Village Council last week granted permission for a group led by John Ames and Joyce Augustine to pursue plans to coordinate a medieval fantasy festival similar to a renaissance faire to replace the annual Artisans Festival. The proposed event would be held Sept. 8 and 9 at the historic coke ovens site, offering musical acts, various entertainers and performers, merchants, food and beverages and activities for children.

Ames and Augustine said they will plan, organize and operate the family oriented festival with a medieval fantasy theme, targeting local and state wide performers and vendors. They said they anticipate bringing in over 500 people.

“There’s a whole market of people very niched into [medieval fantasy] and would love to see something like this local,” they said, noting the closest such festivals are in Geneva and Pittsburgh.

They said such a festival would bring in new people and new families to discover fun in Leetonia, attracting a different group of people than an artisan’s festival might.

“Revive old traditions and bring fresh energy to the village,” they said.

Ames and Augustine said the artisan’s fesitval is excellent, but noted the lack of visitors.

“There wasn’t a lot of people despite it being a great event,” they said.

Holding a medieval faire at the coke ovens should draw more people, they explained, citing the site’s “mystical” and historic background.

“The heritage of the coke ovens – the whole Mahoning Valley – is fascinating,” they said.

While making their proposal to council, Ames and Augustine noted they coordinated a festival in Warren in June, doubling the vendor’s from the host’s previous festival and attracting more than 500 visitors.

The couple did not present a budget, saying instead they were waiting for council’s support before seeking funding and developing a game plan. A detailed proposal will follow at a later date.

Councilman JR Ferry expressed concerns regarding space at the coke ovens, but Ames and Augustine said there will be plenty of room, even while avoiding prohibited areas and those that are easily damaged. They acknowledged parking and electric could be a problem, but there will be plenty of time to address those issues, they said.

Council member Sue Buchanan encouraged council to approve the festival.

“[They’ll provide] a very good event and they will be respectful of the [coke oven] site,” she said. “But we need to move quickly so that the group can start getting funds together.”

Despite giving approval to move forward with planning for the event, council members made specific requests that the village be incorporated into the event by such tactics as transportation (shuttles from various locations in the village).