By Bill Parry

The New World Queens Fest is set to rock Astoria Park on Saturday, Aug. 29, with live performances from more than 30 bands and 30 artists featuring bossa nova, reggae, hip-hop and R&B, funk, bluegrass and Afro-Cuban. The festival, presented by the non-profit Astoria Music & Arts, will also bring visual arts, dancers, performance artists and interactive children’s events to two stages and tents set up on the Great Lawn between the RFK and Hell Gate bridges.

“For seven years, AM&A has brought music, art, dance. theater, comedy and film to the Astoria community,” AM&A Director of Operations Doris Cellar said. “We will be throwing the greatest entertainment festival in Astoria.”

Nicole Mourelatos became the art director and curator last year, having performed at the festival with Cellar in 2009. Born and raised in Astoria, Mourelatos put together a roster of homegrown talent.

“All of the musical acts are from Queens, but close to 90 percent are from right here in Astoria,” she said. “There is so much talent in Astoria and we just want to feature them in our own amazing park with its jaw-dropping views of the East River and the Manhattan skyline.”

The New World Queens Fest is also pet and family friendly.

“We’ll have a special tent for the children which will be more kid-friendly than it’s been in the past,” Mourelatos said. “We’ll have puppets, an interactive dance party with 12-year-old DJs, all this goodness.”

There will be an Art Island, a pop-up art gallery in sand featuring the works of more than 30 Astoria artists and a Green Tent, a place to explore solutions to restoring health and the environment.

“We bring an environmentally positive enlightenment to the festival,” Mourelatos said. “We believe that the next entrepreneurs and innovators are the people who get out and see as many new things as possible. We believe that the voices that affect political and social change are the ones who engage in dialogue about our generation and generations to come. Without music and art there is no social change.”

The New World Queens Fest is a free event. It starts at noon and runs until 8 p.m.

Another arts-driven event takes place on Saturday, Aug. 22, with SculptureCenter’s annual Block Party from noon to 5 p.m. on Purves Street at Jackson Avenue and 43rd Avenue in Long Island City. Live music, interactive performances and arts and crafts are featured along with an artists’ market showcasing affordable and functional art and objects.

There is also a food court with options from area restaurants. Admission is free.

Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparry@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4538.

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