Arts festival draws in large, eclectic crowd

Wares for sale at the Fairhope Arts and Crafts Festival .
Wares for sale at the Fairhope Arts and Crafts Festival .

FAIRHOPE, Ala. (WALA) – From live music to sports paintings, metal plants and, of course, loads of kettle corn, there is no shortage of things to do and see at the Eastern Shore Chamber of Commerce Fairhope Arts & Crafts Festival.

 

“We heard that it was one of the best,” Gayle Cates, a Tennessee native said. “(It’s) the best festival here. We always go to the Shrimp Festival and we heard this one was really good.”

 

The festival, now in its 62nd year, is expected to bring in 250,000 to 300,000 attendees from all over the country.

 

“I think the woodworking part is great. Being a builder for 34 years down in Michigan, the woodworking crafts really struck me,” Douglass Ritsema, a Grand Rapids resident said. He was torn between viewing the art and checking the score of the University of Michigan and University of Illinois matchup.

 

A new feature to this year’s festival was the relaxation tent. Festival patrons were able to get a free massage or just sit back for a while and kick up their feet.

 

And it wasn’t just the attendees who came from around the country, but the artists as well. Festival chair, Jaca McLaren, said you could chalk it up to southern hospitality.

 

“The show is pretty well organized,” McLaren said. “We have people all day long that circulate to offer them drinks and they can go to take a break. We have what we call booth sitters.”

 

“You know, it’s just a great show. I mean, the people are great, I’ve had great success here. They have a real appreciation for glass,” Scott Hartley, the artist behind Infinity Art Glass, said. “And it’s just typically great weather. I’m from Kansas, so it’s a nice place to be this time of year.”

 

“It’s a highly rated festival. In the Sunshine Magazine, they rate it high. So, we gave it a shot, we liked it and we keep coming back,” Donovan Leidelmeyer, owner of Leidelmeyer Jewelry, said.

The free festival will be running for the rest of this weekend. Each day starts at 10 a.m. and ends at 5 p.m.

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