BOUNTIFUL - You never know what will happen at Bountiful/Davis Art Center’s Summerfest International.
Though the performing group from Sierra Leone had to cancel their appearance at the festival at the last minute, the Lithuanian group Siaudele made its first-ever appearance at Summerfest. The group was originally scheduled to perform last year, but was stranded in Poland after an unscrupulous travel agent disappeared with all their money.
“It’s like a gift from God to be here now,” said Juste Sakalyte, a member of the group. “It’s so fun to be among these people.”
The sense of welcome was especially nice, given the shadow that last year’s incident threw over the journey here.
“Once you get burned, the second time everything is ‘What if it’s like that again?” she said. “But it’s just so inspiring and relaxing. It’s one of the best festivals we’ve been to.”
The Sierra Leone-based Biana Players International, on the other hand, had to stay at home for this year. Bontiful/Davis Art Center Executive Director Emma Dugal said that they weren’t able to make the flight due to a visa interview scheduled too late, but their country is one of those currently dealing with an outbreak of the Ebola virus.
The groups who did attend the festival, however, all came from countries not currently dealing with the virus. Among those groups was the Bangladesh Academy of Fine Arts, the Shendong Dancing Club from Taiwan, and Komunitas Tari FISIP Radha Sarisha (or KTF Rhada Sarisha for short) from Indonesia.
“It’s great for us,” said Dewinta Anggesti, the director of KTF Rhada Sarisha. “Here we can get experience in sharing our culture with other people from around the world.”
The weather helped make that sharing easier, offering a mix of sunshine and cooler temperatures rare in previous Summerfests.
“We’ve never had weather this great that I can remember,” said Dugal. “It’s not hot and it’s not raining.”
Local artists were also on hand to enjoy the temperatures, including Angela Anderson. The quilter and fiber artist, who also teaches classes at Quilter’s Attic in Bountiful, hand-hooked a rug for curious onlookers at the festival.
“I like quilting, but you have to measure everything carefully,” Anderson said. “With (rug-hooking), you just go with it. It doesn’t have to be perfect.”
She paused, then smiled. “Actually, it adds to the charm if it isn’t.”
Though crowds at lunchtime on Friday appeared to be thin, Dugal said she thought the numbers might have been slightly higher than last year’s. The art center plans to determine attendance by the number of entrance surveys that were filled out, but those haven’t been compiled yet.
If success can be determined by entertainment value, however, she’s happy to consider Summerfest a win already.
“It was fabulous,” she said. “The kids were having so much fun.”