The 67th annual Fairhope Arts & Crafts Festival returns March 15-17, showcasing more than 200 artists in one of the Southeast’s largest juried art shows.
“On Thursday the police department will shut down the streets downtown at 5 p.m. and the artists will start moving in,” said Laura English, one of the many volunteers who organize the show for the Fairhope Arts & Crafts Festival Foundation. “It’s a great thing to see; the streets will turn into a whole village throughout the whole downtown. This year we have over 200 artists that will be coming from 24 different states.
Exhibitors were chosen blindly by a group of organizers from a pool of more than 600 applications. Now in its 67th year, those who are accepted into the festival are also eligible for more than $20,000 in cash prizes.
In addition to the coveted “Best of Show,” there are 11 other individual awards and one “award of distinction” for each of the 11 categories on display. Those include fibers, functional crafts, graphics, drawing and watercolors, jewelry, mixed media, painting, photography, pottery and ceramics, sculpture, wood and fine crafts.
Judges this year are Donna Cunningham Hawes, Erin McIntosh and Heather Ashworth.
“They start applying in July, there is a jury of applications in October and we begin to notify the accepted artists each November, so by the end of the year we have the show put together,” she said. “We try to keep the numbers relative to the categories based on where the applications are coming from, so we have a well-rounded show and everything is represented.”
The foundation sponsors the show with the assistance of the city of Fairhope, the Downtown Merchants Association and the Eastern Shore Art Center, which is simultaneously and seamlessly hosting its 47th annual Outdoor Art Show on the festival’s northern borders. There, nearly 125 additional artists will be featured on the grounds of the art center and surrounding Oak, Equality and Section streets.
It’s the third year the nonprofit foundation has been the primary sponsor of the Arts & Crafts Festival, and all proceeds are used to fund scholarships and various art programs in and around the city of Fairhope.
“Our mission is to promote the arts in the community, and we have awarded more than $42,000 so far, including three $1,500 scholarships to seniors enrolled in the art departments of local high schools. And we also consider other nonprofits that need a donation,” English said.
Those recipients have included the Baldwin Pops, Eastern Shore Art Center, Eastern Shore Choral Society and Exceptional Foundation, among others.
“The other thing we do is a featured artist each year. We look for a local artist to create something unique each year and that’s the artwork we use on the front of our marketing and T-shirts and posters.”
This year the featured artist is Gigi Hackford, “a Fairhope fixture for 20 years” whose seascapes, landscapes, still life, abstract and angel acrylic paintings are often featured at the Fairhope Artist Gallery on Section Street. For the official festival art, she painted a wooden sailboat called “Homeward Bound.” It will be available for purchase at the festival merchandise booth.
In addition to the art available for sale, there will be more than 18 food vendors throughout the site, along with a main food court by the Festival Stage on Magnolia Avenue between Section and Bancroft streets.
The Festival Stage next to Regions Bank is the place to find musical entertainment, with 18 acts scheduled to perform, ranging from school bands and choruses to the Zuraka Belly Dancers of Mobile and the Gypsy Pearl Band. Entrance to all events onsite are free, but parking is limited.
Festival organizers recommend using the $5 shuttle service provided by the Baldwin Regional Transit System (BRATS), which will pick up passengers from the Plantation Pointe Shopping Center (Piggly Wiggly), Eastern Shore Village (Big Lots) and Volanta Park. Shuttle riders will disembark at Johnson Avenue and Bancroft Street, a five-minute walk from the festival.
Ancillary events (which may include admission costs) include the Spring Fever Chase 5K on Saturday, the Twilight Music Festival hosted by the Rileigh and Raylee Angel Ride Foundation and pet adoptions by the Baldwin Humane Society and The Haven.
Held on Saturday from 4:30-8 p.m., the Twilight Music Festival costs $30 and features performances from Ross Newell, of the Mulligan Brothers, and the Red Clay Strays at the Halstead Amphitheater on the campus of Coastal Alabama Community College.
At 200 S. Section St., Redeemer Lutheran Church is hosting its annual German Sausage Dinner March 15-17, 11:30 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. Diners may eat in or take out. For more information call 251-928-8397.
Younger visitors may enjoy the children’s area near the K-1 Center and Fairhopers Community Park.
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