NORWAY — The annual Norway Arts Festival is shortening its length but returning to its roots this year.

In recent years, the event, co-sponsored by the Western Maine Art Group and Norway Downtown, has been a three-day festival filled with art, music, crafts, dance and theater performances anchored by the sidewalk art sale.

This year, the festival is being reduced to a one-day sidewalk art show with limited musical performances.

“We wanted to return to our roots as an art show,” said Michael Everett, director of the Matolcsy Arts Center.

The first sidewalk art show was held in the mid 1970s by the late Lajos Matolcsy, founder of the Matolcsy Arts Center, and two of his former art students, Lee Bean and Ellie Viles. Eventually, the sidewalk art show expanded into a three-day event, drawing more than 75 vendors and thousands of people to the community.

But with growing obligations on the part of Norway Downtown and a desire to focus on the original meaning of the art show from Western Maine Art Group, planners decided to scale back.

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“Norway Downtown is committed to supporting the efforts of the art group,” said Andrea Burns, president of Norway Downtown. She said the organization will continue to raise funds and help accommodate exhibitors’ needs.

Burns said that Norway Downtown will continue to bring events to Main Street, but at this time has backed away from trying to organize the Thursday and Friday events.

“We hope the community will rally and support the arts festival,” Burns said.

This year, the Matolcsy Arts Center, at 480 Main St., will host a Norway Arts Festival kickoff reception beginning at noon Sunday, April 26, followed by a fine art auction at 1 p.m.

Works from the Western Maine Art Group’s collection and works by current members will be auctioned by Jody McMorrow, an auctioneer with 30 years of experience. 

That art includes two antique oil paintings — a still life and a landscape — and works by Donna Chase, Elizabeth Foley, Miriam Wotiz and Duncan Slade. In addition, works by Western Maine Art Group artists Gail Rein, Francoise Fetchko, Barbara Traficonte, Steve Traficonte, Guy Prestia, Chris Jurack, Rei Cortez, Michael Everett, Ulla Hansen, Jeanne Labounty, Sandra Bell, Ron Hamilton, Pam Morra and Irina Kahn will be auctioned.

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The Matolcsy Center will be open from 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday, April 25, for those who would like to view the artwork, which will include works from Oxford Hills students.

“It’s a big draw for the community,” Everett said.

Admission to the reception and auction is $10. Refreshments will be served.

Proceeds from the auction will benefit and support the continued development of quality arts in the community for young and old and to help stage the Norway Arts Festival 2015.

During the festival in July, about 50 artists, largely from Maine and some from other parts of New England, will display and sell their artwork on Main Street during the 48th annual Sidewalk Art Show from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, July 11.

Other events that weekend will include the Norway Triathlon at Pennesseewassee Park on Route 118 and the Norway Historical Society’s Marigold Tea Room at the society headquarters, 471 Main St.

The Norway Memorial Friends of the Library will hold its annual book sale at Norway Grange 45, 15 Whitman St., from 4 to 7 p.m. Friday, July 10, and from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, July 11.

There will be a book-signing at Books N Things, 430 Main St., from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, July 11. The author is to be announced.

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