Interview: Ten years of the Griffis Sculpture Park Summer Festival

Interview: Ten years of the Griffis Sculpture Park Summer Festival

This interview with Doug Sitler, initially was published in The Villager.

The Griffis Sculpture Park Summer Festival is returning for its 10 th year on Sunday, August 20 th at the
sculpture park in East Otto. As with prior festivals, the event promises to be a day filled with music, art,
nature, food, vendors and much more. Many people associated with the festival call it “the best day of
the summer” due to the event’s blissful vibe.

Due to the 2022 festival being rained out, all performers were invited back to participate this year.
Heading the concert will be Jim Donovan & Sun King Warriors. Donovan is a founding member of the
jam band Rusted Root. Other performers include; PA Line, Sly Boots Circus, Bianca L. Period McGraw,
and Ruby.

Sculpture Park volunteer, Doug Sitler, answered a few questions about the festival. Sitler has helped
organize the festival since its inception in 2013.

The summer festival is celebrating 10 years, how did it get started?
Since the park was first built in the late 1960s, music has always been a part of Griffis Sculpture Park.
Throughout the years, there were several large and small events. Then for about 15 years, there was no
music at the park. So 10 years ago, some volunteers got together to put together an event that would be
held annually. It’s been going strong ever since. The event is more than just music, therefore we gave it
the name “summer festival” instead of “music festival.”

How is the festival important to the Griffis Sculpture Park?
The summer festival is the main fundraiser for the park. Everyone who purchases a ticket are literally
helping keep the park open and maintained. Another reason that the event is important is that it
attracts many people who have never visited the park before. Once they see the park, they tend to
return for more visits. It’s a fundraiser and a friendraiser.

What makes the summer festival so special?
What makes Griffis Sculpture Park Summer Festival so special is that it’s a family-friendly day fill with
many things to do. People sit and watch music, then get up and explore the park. Attendees also check
out the craft and food vendors. One of the unique things about this festival is that people can bring their
own coolers, which makes for a fun day of picnicking.

Any favorite highlights from the past festivals?
I’d have to say the 2017 concert by 10,000 Maniacs has been the biggest highlight so far. Over 1,500
people attended the show. People were singing and dancing throughout the entire concert. So many
smiling faces. It was personally a highlight for me, because it was the legendary 10,000 Maniacs show in
1991 that got me to the park for the first-time ever. I’ve been coming back every year since.

How does the festival incorporate local artists?
Since day one of the festival, the music has been mostly regional original music. We believe it’s
important to support and promote original art. We have Buffalo poet Bianca L. Period McGraw returning
this year to present her thought-provoking prose. Our vendor village features creations from the local creative community. This event very much highlights the tremendous artists that live in Western New

Gates to the festival open at 12 noon, with entertainment taking place from 1:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Tickets are $25 for adults. Children 12 and under are free. Tickets can be purchased in advance at or on the day of the festival at the park entrance.