For the most part, the COVID-19 pandemic is behind us, but a busy Chagrin Falls arts and culture scene is not!
Pardon the hyperbole, but there is so much going on around here we will all need an energy drink to read the events column in the Chagrin Valley Times.
Examples later, but first did you know our town was not always the hub of arts and culture activities?
Chagrin Falls began life as an industrious blue collar mill town and commercial center drawing its customer base from those who worked and lived in the village and the surrounding farm community.
It has always managed to keep up with the times in which it lives. The latest rebranding of Chagrin Falls began almost 20 years ago when local leaders – with visions of the village as ghost town dogging their dreams -- got together to talk about a confluence of events that threatened its relevance and viability.
A hospital, paper manufacturer, and investment firm were leaving the village and taking their considerable local tax contributions with them.
The village brain trust worked from the premise that Chagrin Falls had rebranded itself before when the mills and farms left and the village could do it again.
The constants throughout the town’s development were Chagrin Valley Little Theatre (CVLT), Valley Art Center (VAC), Chagrin Falls Historical Society (CFHS), Chagrin Falls Library, and Chagrin Valley Astronomical Society.
The Chagrin Documentary Film Festival (CDFF), the Chagrin Studio Orchestra (CSO), and Chagrin Arts (CA) would soon follow.
Together they would provide the basis for a resurgent economy and a good fit for the growing restaurant scene, unique shopping experience, and well-established day tripper and tourist trade.
To make the new brand official, village council added an arts and culture commission to its many special interest groups made up of citizens and elected officials. The new commission includes representatives from all the mentioned groups.
Today the village’s commercial art galleries and a dozen arts-oriented businesses along with individual artists are also invited to attend the commission’s regularly scheduled meetings.
Put this all together and what do we have? A never-ending schedule of things to see, hear, do, and enjoy.
It began last week with the Valley Art Center’s Floral Flash at the top of the stairway to the falls. There Janet Ingold introduced the public to the idea that real flowers and natural materials can “paint” a picture as dazzling as a VanGogh and intriguing as Mona Lisa’s smile.
After a week-long run, the floral display was de-constructed and all the components composted in tribute to Earth Day, April 22.
To put an exclamation mark at the end of the exhibit, giant butterflies took over downtown Chagrin Falls.
The inflatables occupied Riverside and Triangle parks and the historical society lawn. Titled “Hope Soars,” the installation is a project of Beachwood High School’s class for student-entrepreneurs which includes kids from Chagrin. The goal of their hard-to-miss display was to draw attention to and donations for the Cleveland Food Bank.
The opportunities continue May 7 with Steve Eva and the Chagrin Studio Orchestra at the Chagrin Valley Little Theatre for their annual Spring Concert featuring music born in America including Disney scores and Broadway show tunes.
Speaking of music, did you know there is a place in town – Paris Room Bistro – where jazz fans can hang out and listen to some of the area’s best purveyors of that genre courtesy of the restaurant in partnership with the Cleveland Heights-based Roots of American Music organization? Jazz happens every Monday from 7 to 9 p.m. which is perfect because Monday is the most unexciting day of the week. Plus, the PRB bar is open and dessert and hors d’oeuvres are at hand along with their freshly unfurled patio canopy.
On May 19, the Chagrin Documentary Film Festival will host “Everyone’s a Critic” screening of documentary shorts at the Chagrin Valley Little Theatre during which the audience will serve as jury for those films to be shown during the Oct. 9-16 festival.
The event includes drinks and hors d oeuvres at 6 p.m., the films at 7 p.m. with dessert served at the after party.
The last weekend in May finds the return of Blossom Time and although some would argue as to its cultural value, the Chagrin Valley Jaycee carnival does feature a lineup of bands and other entertainment under the big top Tent.
The Memorial Day observance at Evergreen Hill Cemetery is different in that it depends on context drawn from local history from veterans past and present to middle school recitation contest winners reciting Logan’s Orders establishing Memorial Day and Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address.
There is more. Art by the Falls outdoor arts and fine crafts open air festival featuring 100 artists and sponsored by VAC. It returns to Riverside Park June 11-12.
The Chagrin Valley Little Theatre returns with a June-long production of “Elliot and Me” a musical. Shakespeare in the Park returns to Riverside Park in August.
The Sunday morning farmers market begin in early June as do the weekly Summer Concerts in the Park series. Outdoor yoga practice is available Saturday mornings through August and the astronomical society invites everyone to watch the heavens and their website for coming night sky viewing opportunities.
We could go on, but we will not. Suffice to say, there is no reason to be bored if you are anywhere near Chagrin Falls now through Labor Day.
Go. Do. Enjoy. Repeat.
Barbara Christian has covered the Chagrin Valley since the Johnson administration – LBJ, not Andrew. Send her an email to: email@example.com