Ask the Experts: Wildwood FEASTival Chairs Vivian and David Norman

Vivian and David Norman, chairs of this year’s Wildwood FEASTival, give their top tips on how to get the most out of the natural and cultural treasure that is Wildwood Park for the Arts.

What is FEASTival?

Wildwood Park for the Arts’ Wine & Food Festival is Arkansas’ Premier FEASTival because of the great restaurants and amazing chefs that participate. Pair those amazing bites with delicious libations and it’s a feastival like no other! In addition to wine tasting this year, we look forward to a selection of beers and spirits, and we are excited to add some signature cocktails to the sampling. The cork pull and silent auction are popular activities.

What differentiates it from other events on the gala circuit? What treats can people expect?

I think the main difference from other events, even Wildwood’s Vine & Dine Wine Reserve Dinner, is that you get to experience these culinary and liquid treats at the Park itself. The theatre and lobbies are beautifully lit and decorated by the talented staff and volunteers. The stage is a popular place to sit and enjoy great live music, maybe even take a turn or two on the dance floor.

What is Wildwood?

Wildwood Park for the Arts is a 501(c)3 nonprofit and is many things to many people. For some of our neighbors, it is the place to walk their dogs, stroll their babies in their baby carriages, or take a casual stroll through the woods and around Swan Lake.

For others in Central Arkansas, Wildwood is where they come for indoor and outdoor concerts, great festivals and also for full theatrical productions in the Lucy Lockett Cabe Festival Theatre. Wildwood’s mission is to enrich the lives of Arkansans of all ages by creating community through nature and the arts.

So Wildwood brings the arts and nature together to provide opportunities for lifelong learning, engage the imagination and celebrate the human spirit through encounters with nature and a full spectrum of the cultural arts.

What does Wildwood do with the proceeds raised at FEASTival?

The Wine & Food FEASTival supports the park’s educational programs. Arts education is a major initiative at Wildwood that ties into all programming, from Art in the Park exhibitions and the LANTERNS! Festival, to botanical displays and production-related school visits. In addition to year-long arts residencies in several elementary schools, Wildwood also offers a statewide educational tour and the Wildwood Academy of Music & the Arts.

What is the Wildwood Academy of Music & the Arts?

The Wildwood Academy of Music & the Arts (WAMA) provides youth in Arkansas access to the highest standards in music and arts education. In 2016 Wildwood added a statewide opportunity for advanced students, and WAMA serves students ages 6 – 18 of all skill levels.

With primary emphasis on instrumental and vocal music, WAMA also provides opportunities to explore multiple artistic genres, from visual and culinary arts to literary arts and musical theater. Through orchestral, large and small ensemble, and solo experiences, students receive training and performance opportunities supported by a professional faculty.

Public performances and master classes by world-class guest artists are held throughout June and July. There are one-week WILDMusic sessions for beginners, with two-week sessions for intermediate and advanced students.

The advanced instrumentalists and singers really enjoyed collaborating on a culminating performance last summer, so Artistic Director Bevan Keating will be working with Daniel Black, who joins WAMA from his conducting services with the Fort Worth Symphony, for another fantastic summer. The faculty and guest artists are always top-notch, so we try to catch as many student performances, faculty recitals and guest artist concerts as possible.

The Wildwood FEASTival will take place on April 21 at 6:30 p.m. at Wildwood Park. For tickets visit WildwoodPark.org/Events.

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