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Slyfest 7: art, music and fun at Griffis Sculpture Park

WITH THE GREATEST OF EASE — Silks aerialist Andrew Kutnyak spun in the trees as part of Slyfest 7, held Sept. 7 – 8 at Griffis Sculpture Park. Photo by Andrew Manzella.
ASHFORD — Sept. 7 and 8 marked the seventh annual Slyfest event. Acting as a fundraiser and awareness-raiser for the Slyboots School of Music and Art in Buffalo, Slyfest brought artists and performers to Griffis Sculpture Park in Cattaraugus County.

Previously a camping event, Slyfest 7 took place over the span of two days and ended at sunset, each day. In addition to this year’s performances and workshops, drummers and dancers from Ghana participated.

This was the first time that Slyfest was held at the sculpture park, which provided grounds for performers and artists, as well as vendors. Those included Hoopnosis, a manufacturer of handcrafted hula-hoops.

Griffin Brady, the founder of Slyboots School of Music and Art in Buffalo, has been working with the Ashford Hollow Foundation for several years. He said he was was “very pleased” to host Slyfest at the Griffis Sculpture Park, this year.

BEING SLY ABOUT IT — Griffin Brady, founder of the Slyboots School of Art and Music and Slyfest posed in front of some sculptures at the park during the festival.
“The park here is such a beautiful, brilliant place and it was clearly built for bringing people together to celebrate life, art and music,” he said. “We’ve got acrobats, jugglers, fire-twirlers, all kinds of musicians and a dance troupe,” explained Brady, in reference to his students at Slyboots and the performers at the festival.

When asked what her favorite part of Slyfest 7 was, Layla Brock, Slyfest volunteer and resident of Buffalo, said, “When the rain stopped and last night, just watching the drumming and the dancing, was a lot of fun.”

The first day of Slyfest 7 focused on workshops in dancing and drumming. There were performances that complimented these workshops later in the evening.

Andrew Kutnyak, an aerial silks artist, dangled from a tree on the park’s grounds.

“Usually, you see aerial silks in Cirque du Soleils, where they’d be hanging from a point that’s more like 40 feet high,” Kutnyak said, as he hung, 6 feet from the ground. He explained that the “general idea of aerial silks is to keep yourself secure and incorporate dance moves as you spin through the fabric.”

The first evening of Slyfest also featured food from Ghana.

“The meal was delicious. It was cooking from Ghana, and it was a peanut soup over rice with chicken,” Brock said, of the African fare.

LITTLE DRUMMER BOY — Ethan Axelrod showed attendees how to make drums at Slyfest 7. He demonstrated his craft in his corner of the woods.
Ethan Axelrod, a drum maker, came to the festival to work on his current drum projects.

“First, I drill a hole in the bottom and I do the inside first, then I shape the outside. I use, except for drilling the hole, hand tools like gauges and chisels and a lot of hatchet work on the outside,” he said.

Quite a few bands also performed on the second day of the festival, including Peanut Brittle Satellite. “I am really looking forward to Peanut Brittle Satellite, who I like very much,” Brock said.

For more information about future Slyfest events and the Slyboots School of Music and Art, go online to visit the site www.onthesly.org.

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