By Irit Skulnik

For The Diamondback

Around 250 community members gathered Saturday for the second-ever Lemon Zest Festival at The Hall CP — an event that featured six performing and four gallery artists.

The festival’s organizers hoped to bring together artists and highlight local organizations and businesses. The event included musical performances by several musicians and showcases for paintings and other art by local artists.

Sana Shah, Lemon Zest’s chief creative director, said she started Lemon Zest in 2021 with her friends Rohith Sebastian and Mike Quarantillo. The trio hoped to create a strong community for local artists after the COVID-19 pandemic, Shah said.

“I think not a lot of people are as in tune with their local music scene as they would like to be, so we’re trying to bridge that gap,” Shah said.

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The six performing artists included the Terrapin Record Label and five artists selected by a community vote, according to the event’s organizers.

Sebastian, Lemon Zest’s logistics director, along with the other founders, wanted to make the voting process more community-driven and get the audience involved.

The festival included a diverse range of artists and music genres, Sebastian added.

“There’s a lot of live instrumentation but we do have a lot of people trickling in a hip-hop background,” Sebastian said. “We have a solid blend of everything from one end of the spectrum to the other.”

In addition to organizing the event, Sebastian and Quarantillo, the event’s production lead, also performed at the festival. The pair specializes in R&B music with a pop influence and has been making music together since high school.

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Quarantillo highlighted how the duo released their debut album in 2020 but was unable to host a release party because of the pandemic. Sebastian hoped the Lemon Zest festival would help bridge that gap.

“Every artist at our level is kind of stumped because all the venues are closing and things of that nature, so we were like ‘why don’t we just start our own?’” Sebastian said. “And we’ll retrofit whatever environments allow us.”

Quarantillo hopes to bring back Lemon Zest next year and encouraged music and art enthusiasts to attend the event in the future.

“If you’re into appreciating music and appreciating artwork and stuff, it’s just a good place to meet people,” Quarantillo said. “It’s a nice safe space, healthy environment for people to just come and have a good time.”