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The Yankee Express

Small Stones Festival of the Arts wraps up October 21-23

Kenneth C. Crater, president of Grafton Arts Inc., talks about the Small Stones Festival of the Arts during Gazebo Palooza. SSFA runs from October 14th to the 23rd and all events are free.


Although most of the fifth annual Small Stones Festival of the Arts has already taken place, the concluding weekend is well worth a look, highlighted by author and hometown boy Nicholas Gage’s talk “A Writer’s Odyssey” from 7:00 to 8:30 p.m. on Friday, October 21st in the Community Room of the Grafton Public Library.
A collaboration of five organizations—the Worcester County Camera Club, the Shakespeare Club of Grafton, Apple Tree Arts, the Blackstone Valley Art Association and The Claflin Hill Symphony Orchestra—the SSFA brings the best painting, photography, music and literature in the area to the town of Grafton every fall.

Mark Manzella of Worcester performs at Gazebo Palooza.


For Kenneth C. Crater, president of Grafton Arts Inc., the SSFA is worth the effort he and other volunteers put into staging an event that directly precedes the big show. This being Gazebo Palooza, the latest version of which was held on September 17th under sunny skies.
“We have so many restaurants, a raffle, a silent auction and a number of vendors,” Mr. Crater said, of Gazebo Palooza. “I originally brought this idea to Apple Tree Arts. They had restored the Great Hall (next to the Grafton Town Common) and there wasn’t a lot going on. I thought, ‘why not a multi-genre and multi-artist program. It’s turned into something a lot larger than we had thought possible. Always in our mind was to get the painters and photographers involved and give them a chance to sell their work close to the holidays. It’s been a labor of love for them but a chance to work some magic too. They are so encouraging and grateful. For some, it’s their first opportunity to get published.”
“I was on the first committee” for Gazebo Palooza, Bonnie Frederico said, while seated at a picnic table. “I try to be a jack of all trades, wherever I’m needed. Today I’m working on the silent auction.”
The Small Stones Festival of the Arts has grown and so have the entries, Ms. Frederico said.
The good news for those who haven’t yet sampled this year’s SSFA is that the exhibition of artists’ painting and photographs will be on display in the Great Hall from 4:00 to 7:00 p.m. on Friday, October 21st, from 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. on Saturday, October 22nd, and from noon to 4:00 p.m. on Sunday, October 23rd.
Saturday’s schedule also includes an appearance by Annie Adams Fields in a production of “Victorian Gossip Girl” at the Grafton Public Library from 7:00 to 8:30 p.m.
As for Mr. Gage, his remarkable career includes his work with the New York Times as an award-winning investigative reporter. He is also the author of seven books, including “Eleni,” a searing account of his mother’s life and death during the Greek Civil War. The book has been translated into thirty-two languages, made into a film and hailed by critics as “one of the rare books in which the power of art re-creates the full historical truth.”
His coming-of-age memoir, “A Place for Us,” recounts his struggles adjusting to a new life as a young immigrant to Worcester in the 1950s.
Mr. Gage also produced the Oscar-nominated film “The Godfather Part III.”
The juried exhibition of painting and photography is a staple of the Small Stones Festival of the Arts, with more than five hundred entries received and one hundred forty-four selected for showing in the Great Hall.
These works are also featured in a hardcover printed catalog of the exhibition, standing as a permanent record of each year’s activity.
Dana Wilson, a spokesperson for the SSFA, invites all interested persons to respond when “our next Art Call goes live,” tentatively scheduled to occur in July of 2023.
More details can be found at

Contact Rod Lee at [email protected] or 774-232-2999.