Arts fest kicks off Saturday

Chili, jugglers, a theater presentation, art demonstrations and live music are just part of the offerings set for Saturday’s Main Street Arts Festival in downtown Buckhannon.

Instead of being located on Main Street, as was the case in previous years, the event will instead take place at Jawbone Park in conjunction with the Upshur County Farmer’s Market’s Chili Cook-Off, which will be presented for the second year. The arts festival and chili cookoff will make for a spicy duo from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

“I think it brings the town closer together,” Chili Cook-Off chairman Beth Long said.

It helps build our community.”

In the planning stages of the event, organizers of the arts festival and its host, the Main Street Arts Cooperative, said that the alternative location would prevent requesting that East Main Street be closed for the festival, and each event could benefit from the other’s crowd.

“We decided that Jawbone Park was probably the most appropriate place for the festival. Jawbone park is a great facility. We wanted to make use of that facility,” Main Street Arts Cooperative President Tom Lynch said.

Lynch said that the arts festival, which takes place at the same location as the chili cookoff, will feature many unique events such as jugglers, clowns, children’s activities, facepainting, a marionette group, hands-on clay pot making for children, live music, live art demonstrations, about 30 artist booths to browse and a short presentation by the Buckhannon Community Theater.

Guests also can stop in and taste the chili that will be judged in a contest. The events are free and open to the public.

Ironically, this spicy duo was not in the original plans for each of the separate events.

“Both of our festivals happened on the same day last year, but we really didn’t coordinate it at all,” Lynch said. “This year we wanted to do it on the same day again. It was serendipitous that we decided to go ahead and partner. I can’t say there was a reason except that both organizations sort of fell into it.”

Lynch said he is uncertain if the duo will cooperate with joined event next year. He said that he is hoping to coordinate next year’s art festival with the West Virginia Wesleyan College Family Weekend event, which usually takes place in October.

Lynch said that the arts festival gives the participating artist an opportunity to showcase and sell their work, and it gives the community an opportunity to meet and communicate with local artists.

“We really hope to make it not only profitable for the artist, but also educational for the general public,” Lynch said. “To actually meet the artist is always fun. It’s educational as well as economical.”

This year, the artists that registered are participating free of charge. Lynch said that funding from the West Virginia Department of Culture and History in the amount of $4,500 has allowed the Main Street Arts Cooperative to eliminate the $25 entry fee for artists who wished to participate in the event.

“Our legislators were very instrumental in helping us attain those funds,” Lynch said.