NU Alumnus Plays Central Role in Music Festival Fundraiser for Variety Kids Telethon

June 4, 2014  |  by Michael Freedman

Scibetta and Villnave

Matt Villnave, '02, right, holds a promotional poster he designed for Latitude 43 with festival founder Ken Scibetta. All proceeds from the June 13-15 event benefit the Variety Club Kids Telethon.

PubFest has a new location and a new name, although its mission remains the same.

The six-year-old music festival, now known as Latitude 43, moves to Artpark this year (June 13-15) where it will ramp up the quality of its performing acts and, thus, its annual fundraising efforts on behalf of the Variety Club Kids Telethon.

Another constant is the presence of Matt Villnave, a 2002 Niagara University alumnus, who became friends with festival founder Ken Scibetta right around the time PubFest was created. Villnave got involved with the event a couple years later, serving on the planning committee while handling the festival’s website, print and advertising design, along with dozens of other “as-needed” tasks.

For his yeoman’s work during last year’s PubFest, Villnave was presented with the Big Heart Award by Scibetta.

“Matt’s expertise has been invaluable to our festival, and I wouldn’t know what to do without him,” says Scibetta. “From website design, posters, flyers, commercials, multimedia and radio and newspaper ads, along with a million other things that I’m forgetting, he has done more for this festival than anyone else. I have called, emailed and texted Matt at the most random times and gotten immediate answers to anything I’ve ever needed. He is one of the reasons the festival has grown so tremendously. The entire community is lucky to have a talented, kind-hearted individual like Matt.”

Since being established in 2009, the event has raised thousands of dollars for the Variety Kids Telethon of Buffalo and Western New York, a nonprofit with a long history of supporting organizations such as Women and Children’s Hospital of Buffalo, the Robert Warner, M.D. Center for Children with Special Needs, and several other local children’s charities.

“The reason Ken and I are involved is that we have a strong desire to help kids who have medical needs, are underprivileged, or handicapped,” explains Villnave, NU’s assistant director of information technology. “Every cent made from this festival goes straight to charity. We look at this as a unique way to serve our community and help those in need, while creating a fun event for everyone to enjoy.”

Relocating from Academy Park in Lewiston to Artpark allows Latitude 43 to leverage the venue’s hallowed reputation, which has resulted in a remarkable lineup of national headliners that includes Kelley Hunt, Joe Louis Walker, The Machine, Eric Paslay, and Lyndsey Highlander. Nine local acts will also perform.

Each day of the festival is tailored to a distinctive music genre: The blues are featured on Friday, there’s rock all day Saturday and country takes over Sunday.

Tickets, which start at $7, can be purchased by visiting the Latitude 43 website at