Strawberry Festival honors Susan Paley of Village Bank

The Newton Cultural Alliance held its annual Strawberry Festival Fundraiser at the Allen Center in West Newton Saturday evening, featuring musical performances, food and an auction.

The NCA held the event in honor of Susan Paley, vice president of community relations at The Village Bank. Paley is also the vice president of the NCA board.

“She literally knows everybody in Newton and every single person knows her, so to me, she’s like the mayor,” said Charly Nanda, the operations coordinator for the NCA. “It’s a huge loss to the community that she’s retiring, but I have a feeling she’s not going anywhere.” Paley donated millions of dollars on behalf of Village Bank to numerous non-profits in Newton over more than a decade.

Though the NCA has hosted its Strawberry Festival for 10 years now, this year’s was just the second that took place in the Allen Center, the renovated historic home-turned cultural center of Nathaniel Topliff Allen.

The NCA is working to establish a state-designated cultural district in West Newton that would include the Allen Center, according to Adrienne Hartzell Knudsen, the NCA’s managing director.

“We’re really hoping that we can get the ball rolling on that soon and have an opportunity to have some interplay with this the state to get some tourism attraction,” Knudsen told the audience at the fundraiser. “You know, it’s worth it to go to the Allen House.”

Allison Eldredge, the Allen Center’s artist-in-residence performs a song accompanied by pianist Maxim Lubarsky. Photo by Genevieve Morrison

Attendees were served small bites and cocktails before the evening’s art auction kicked off. Dinner followed the program.

“We’ve been in Newton a long time, so it’s a nice time to get together and have a party,” said Jim Sersich, a Newton resident who attended the event.

Mayor Ruthanne Fuller spoke, commending artists in Newton and those who support them, both by participation in community events and monetary donations.

The event featured musical performances including the Allen Center’s artist-in-residence, Allison Eldredge, a cellist.

Newton Cultural Alliance held its annual Strawberry Festival Fundraiser at the Allen Center in West Newton Saturday, June 8. Photo by Genevieve Morrison