Kirby Fest draws big crowd to support arts, education programs

By Geri Gibbons - For Times Leader
Kate Conmy, of Shavertown, puts a bid on a signed Keller Williams poster during a silent auction at Kirby Fest on Saturday night at the Kirby Center. - Amanda Hrycyna | For Times Leader
Wilkes-Barre-based singer/songwriter Kate Hearity, who performs as K8, sings and plays her guitar during the second annual Kirby Fest in Wilkes-Barre on Saturday night. - Amanda Hrycyna | For Times Leader
Patrons enjoyed food, music and drinks during the second annual Kirby Fest fundraiser Saturday night at the Kirby Center in Wilkes-Barre. Featuring more than 30 vendors, the event helps make possible the Kirby’s arts and education programming. - Amanda Hrycyna | For Times Leader

WILKES-BARRE — Over 500 area residents gathered at the F.M. Kirby Center on Saturday night for the second annual Kirby Fest offering “Pints, Pinots and Performing Arts.”

The event was initially held in response to dwindling funding for the Kirby Center’s Young People’s Theater Series and as an opportunity to show off the venue and the benefits it offers to the community, according to Lauren Pluskey McLain, director of development.

“Before last year, we never did a fundraiser,” she said. “So, we brainstormed and this event seemed like a chance to show off the center while raising money.”

Pluskey McLain detailed cultural events and programs that bring young people out for both fun and education.

“For example, upcoming in May is ‘The Greatest Pirate Story Never Told,’” she said. “It’s a free event at which kids can experience live theater.”

Board member Jim Reino called the evening a “win-win,” raising money for a good cause while familiarizing attendees with all the city had to offer. More than 30 vendors filled the Kirby’s lobby offering wine, food and music.

“I see the Arena Bar is here, Rodano’s is here, and other businesses, reminding people that there still here in the city, great places to go,” he said. “And now that the warm weather is hopefully here, people can come out and enjoy the downtown.”

Reino said he was enjoying the musical backdrop and the chance to choose from such a variety of foods.

“The roasted turkey sandwich is my favorite,” he said.

Vince Mooney and Debbie McDonald, Shavertown, had been invited by a friend and also enjoyed the food and drink samples.

Mooney had purchased two bottles of wine early in the evening and he was quick to take them out of their wrappings to show off their attractive presentation.

“The thing is, he doesn’t even like wine,” said McDonald, smiling. “But then he tasted these and I guess now he does like wine.”

And when it came to food, both Mooney and McDonald agreed — the veal ravioli was their favorite.

Kirby executive director Will Beekman said the event helps make the center’s arts and education programming possible.

​ “Not only do we bring arts to the community,” said Beekman. “We bring the community to the arts.”

Kate Conmy, of Shavertown, puts a bid on a signed Keller Williams poster during a silent auction at Kirby Fest on Saturday night at the Kirby Center.
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/web1_ttl042218kirbyfest-1.jpgKate Conmy, of Shavertown, puts a bid on a signed Keller Williams poster during a silent auction at Kirby Fest on Saturday night at the Kirby Center. Amanda Hrycyna | For Times Leader

Wilkes-Barre-based singer/songwriter Kate Hearity, who performs as K8, sings and plays her guitar during the second annual Kirby Fest in Wilkes-Barre on Saturday night.
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/web1_TTL042218KIRBYFEST-3.jpgWilkes-Barre-based singer/songwriter Kate Hearity, who performs as K8, sings and plays her guitar during the second annual Kirby Fest in Wilkes-Barre on Saturday night. Amanda Hrycyna | For Times Leader

Patrons enjoyed food, music and drinks during the second annual Kirby Fest fundraiser Saturday night at the Kirby Center in Wilkes-Barre. Featuring more than 30 vendors, the event helps make possible the Kirby’s arts and education programming.
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/web1_ttl042218kirbyfest-2.jpgPatrons enjoyed food, music and drinks during the second annual Kirby Fest fundraiser Saturday night at the Kirby Center in Wilkes-Barre. Featuring more than 30 vendors, the event helps make possible the Kirby’s arts and education programming. Amanda Hrycyna | For Times Leader

By Geri Gibbons

For Times Leader