Cottage Street Cultural Chaos block party returns for fifth year celebrating culture in Easthampton

  • Erin Cahill and Audra Giuliano with Sundarii Tribal Belly Dance perform at last year’s Cultural Chaos in Easthampton. The block party comes back for its fifth year celebrating culture on Saturday, from 12-5 p.m. GAZETTE  FILE PHOTO

  • Zoe Laflamme, 5, makes pottery animal figure with Susan Halls at last year’s Cultural Chaos in Easthampton. The block party comes back for its fifth year celebrating culture on Saturday, June 9, 2018 from noon to 5 p.m. GAZETTE STAFF FILE PHOTO

  • Kathryn Koval, 6, center, hula hoops with Morgan Montalvo-Green, 6, right, while Allison McDermott, of SHOW Circus Studio, stilt walks Saturday during last year’s Cultural Chaos in Easthampton. The block party comes back for its fifth year celebrating culture on Saturday, June 9, 2018 from noon to 5 p.m. GAZETTE STAFF FILE PHOTO

Thursday, June 07, 2018

EASTHAMPTON — Chaos of the cultural variety is headed to Easthampton Saturday for the 5th annual Cottage Street block party, where the city will have a chance to celebrate its many different cultural identities.

Hosted by Easthampton City Arts and organized by the Cottage Street Cultural District, this year’s event focuses on the theme “show us your culture.”

Pasqualina Azzarello, city arts coordinator at Easthampton City Arts, said the theme can be interpreted to mean literary and arts culture to heritage and cultural identity.

“It can mean whatever people bring to it,” Azzarello said. “It’s really a wide array of different cultural presentations and sharing of cultures.”

After a welcome from Mayor Nicole LaChapelle at the Nashawannuck Pond boardwalk at noon Saturday, the block party will feature four stages of live music, with performances from the likes of Colorway, Flathead Rodeo and New Orleans style brass band Krewe Les Gras.

Azzarello said there will be many different types and forms of culture to be celebrated, from restaurants like Nini’s Ristorante and Corsello Butcheria sharing their Italian heritage, to Psychic Fair and Awen Tree sharing Pagan history, to Harry King hand-knotted tribal rugs from the Middle East.

“We’re also excited to welcome three new local businesses to Cottage Street,” Azzarello said.

#LOCAL by Ciderhouse will be a new second location for Ciderhouse Media; Wedgeworks Art and Home, opened by local sculptor Matt Johnson and his wife Boni Johnson, will offer home goods by local artisans; and Daily Operation will proffer tastes of its inventive fare for the first time just outside the new restaurant at 42 Cottage St.

The event will also include the introductions of Marcia Morrison, Ms. Massachusetts Senior America; Gary Metras, Easthampton’s inaugural poet laureate; and the Easthampton City Arts’ Youth Arts Initiative.

Morrison of Easthampton was chosen to be Ms. Massachusetts Senior America from seven contestants in April and will compete for the title of Ms. Senior America, awarded for “dignity, maturity and inner beauty,” this fall. Metras is the first recipient of the Easthampton Poet Laureate Award funded by a grant from the Massachusetts Cultural Council.

On display throughout the day, the inaugural unveiling of City Art’s pilot Youth Arts Initiative will showcase the work of Easthampton High School students who took photographs of their favorite places in Easthampton and wrote love letters to the city they call home.

“They’re really beautiful and they’re really profound,” Azzarello said of the students’ letters.

Four student ambassadors will be on hand to discuss the project and other students who participated will show their work during the chaos.

The pilot program was funded in part by a $2,500 grant from the Massachusetts Cultural Council in 2017, and Azzarello said the hope is to expand next year to create an intergenerational arts project with participants both young and old.

It also garnered significant support from local sponsors such as Finck and Perras Insurance and the Victor Machuga Foundation. The display will be set up next to one such sponsor, Cernack Buick, to showcase the community support for the first year of the project, Azzarello said.

After the block party, Easthampton’s Art Walk kicks off from 5 to 8 p.m. and Azzarello said the whole day will be filled with free family fun, with plenty of face painting and paddle boating — and culture. More information about the event can be found at culturalchaos.org.

M.J. Tidwell can be  reached at mjtidwell@gazettenet.com.