Last updated: April 25. 2013 5:31PM - 625 Views

Susan Herring of Schuylkill Haven gets her diucks in a row while setting up the duck pond at Kirby Park for this weekends Cherry Blossom Festival. AIMEE DILGER /THE TIMES LEADER 4/24/2013
Susan Herring of Schuylkill Haven gets her diucks in a row while setting up the duck pond at Kirby Park for this weekends Cherry Blossom Festival. AIMEE DILGER /THE TIMES LEADER 4/24/2013
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What: Wilkes-Barre Cherry Blossom Festival

When: 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday

Where: Kirby Park, Market Street, Wilkes-Barre



“Pirouettes in the Park”

11 a.m.: Without Walls Dance Co.

12:15 p.m.: Turi Studio of Dance

12:40 p.m.: Unified Fighting Arts Association

1:05 p.m.: Dance Theatre of Wilkes-Barre

1:30 p.m.: Haifa Bellydance and Izdihaar Student Dance Troupe

1:55 p.m.: Humanity Dance Company

2:20 p.m.: Fusia Dance Company

2:45 p.m.: Scranton Dance Center

3:10 p.m.: Symmetry Dance Company

3:35 p.m.: David Blight School of Dance

4 p.m.: Conservatory of Dance

4:25 p.m.: NEPA Academy of Dancing

4:50 p.m.: Keystone Kids

5:15 p.m.: Kerry Dancers


“Music in the Park”

Noon: John Stevens Doubleshot

1 p.m.: Bobby Velez Trio

2 p.m.: K8

3 p.m.: The Sperazza Band

4 p.m.: Mother Nature’s Sons

5 p.m.: Farmer’s Daughter

6 p.m.: Robb Brown Band

More information: www.wilkes-barre.pa.us

There will be dancing.

And eating.

And amusement rides.

And, it is expected, blooming cherry blossoms.

Those flowery trees are the reason for the celebration Saturday and Sunday in Kirby Park when the city of Wilkes-Barre will have its annual Cherry Blossom Festival from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. both days.

Dancing is a big part of the celebration, with dancers from a number of local studios taking the stage on Saturday for what is called “Pirouettes in the Park” and live bands performing on Sunday, when the public can do the dancing.

“It’s a weekend the family can come out and enjoy themselves and find something to do for the entire day, if they like,” said Lore Majikes, Wilkes-Barre’s special events coordinator.

With the dance studios, which will include a troupe of belly dancers, “everyone does something different,” Majikes said.

When it comes to the live music on Sunday, the festival will include music from polkas to country rock to rock.

The Bobby Velez Trio, performing at the festival for the first time, will add a Spanish flair, Majikes said.

“That will be a lot of fun,” she added.

John Stevens Doubleshot, a polka band from Swoyersville that has played at the festival four or five times, will open up the musical entertainment at noon Sunday. The band performs in Polish and English and will deliver classics such as “Roll Out the Barrel,” “Apples, Peaches” and brand-new songs from the group’s new compact disc called “Kickin’,” Stevens said.

“That’s actually our 18th CD,” Stevens said.

He said it includes polkas, waltzes and oberek numbers. Stevens described an oberek as a fast waltz with “more hop to it.”

The polka band, which formed 1995, plays some 70 gigs a year from Michigan to Florida and throughout the northeastern United States, but Stevens said the band members enjoy playing at the festival.

“Playing at Kirby Park, it’s nice, you’re home pretty quick, and you get to enjoy the afternoon.”

The Sperazza Band, which will take the stage at mid-afternoon, is a rock-‘n’-roll cover band playing at the festival for the first time as a group, though members have performed there as part of other groups, said band member Eric Sperazza.

“We play the songs we really care for, picking out hidden gems that don’t usually get covered in the area,” he said. “In the band, all Sperazzas play instruments and sing lead vocals.”

Besides Eric Sperazza on bass, keyboards and vocals, the band includes his wife, Jennifer Sperazza, on drums and vocals; his father, Mike Sperazza, on guitars, harmonica and vocals, and their cousin Michael Sperazza on lead guitar and vocals.

“We look forward to a day of great weather, music and fun,” Eric Sperazza said.

Other bands in the lineup include Farmer’s Daughter, which plays country rock, and K8, who does some original material.

“Most of the performers are local or have ties to the city of Wilkes-Barre. They were born and raised here or have family here,” Majikes said.

Of course, what’s any festival without food? There will be plenty at the Cherry Blossom, including all the old favorites: potato pancakes, pierogies, haluski, pizza, sausage and other sandwiches, hamburgers, hot dogs, hard and soft ice cream, funnel cakes, kettle corn and lemonade.

Children will find plenty to do as well — pony rides, face-painting, games of all kinds, rides and a big slide.

“Every year they bring whatever has been inspected and what is in tip-top shape,” Majikes said.

For adults, crafts may be a big pull. About 25 vendors will hawk their wares; that’s five more than the number of food vendors expected.

Majikes recommended people bring their own lawn chairs or blankets.

The Cherry Blossom Festival has been a springtime tradition for more than 30 years. It took place on the River Common when it first started, she said.

It was canceled in 2011 after heavy rains saturated the ground.

That won’t be the case this weekend.

“It’s a great day, a great way to get out,” Majikes said.

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