We live in a state that celebrates artists and their creations. So is it possible to feel a little glazed over regarding arts and crafts events?
Snap out of it! Keep reading.
The award-winning, 13th annual Festival of Fine Craft at WheatonArts is back in Millville this weekend, and – trust me here – it is a thumbs-up happening. Or trust AmericanStyle Magazine: It rated the show as one of last year’s Top 10 Fairs and Festivals.
This first-class attraction, held on Oct. 6 and 7, showcases the talents of more than 125 artists from across the country. Because it is juried, candidates are required to submit examples of their work and booth design to a judges’ committee at WheatonArts. This policy ensures a selection of high-caliber artists and an expansive variety of styles.
I first visited the festival a couple of years ago. As I left the car, I spotted two good friends parking nearby. For the record, these folks define arbiters of good taste. Their home is lovely, they appreciate fine wine and cuisine, and they are my go-to advisers for movie recommendations. When they mentioned that they rarely miss this festival, I knew I was in for a treat.
And – though I hesitate to reach for the list of Most Overused Phrases – this event truly does have something for everyone. In addition to the artists’ exhibits, there are food concessions, entertainment, demonstrations and DIY craft sessions for all ages. And oh my, how I love that pumpkin patch!
Throughout both days of the festival, artists in the Glass Studio turn out enchanting glass pumpkins. Watching the glassblowers is great fun, but there’s more outside the studio, where these amazing creations are arranged and offered for sale. A bed of green and orange glass pumpkins may not seem special, but these are not your garden-variety gourds. The patch is a veritable explosion of shapes, sizes and colors, especially on a clear and cloudless day, when the sunlight sets the pumpkins aglow. Once you see it, you’re likely to make it your first stop on a future visit.
The glassblowing demonstrations in the Glass Studio and on the grounds never fail to fascinate me, yet there’s an assortment of other artisans showing how they do what they do. Among the many handcrafts represented are pottery, woodcarving, broom- and basket-making, silk painting, spinning, weaving, chair caning, mold making and woodturning.
Family fun is scheduled from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, and includes areas where visitors can make a scarecrow with clothing and straw; paint a group mural or just paint faces; craft paper beads; decorate sugar skulls (in time for the Mexican Day of the Dead celebration); and create faux stained-glass window hangings with colored tissue paper and wooden, pumpkin-shaped frames.
Adults can indulge their creative urges by painting a silk scarf — using the ancient art of Turkish marbling — or carving a scratch mold to make an aluminum tile. New this year is a wine tasting, courtesy of the Balić Winery in Mays Landing.
There will be entertainment both days, from noon to 4 p.m., by strolling magician Bill Kerwood, who calls himself the “ambassador of possibility”; the PackageGoods Orchestra, a five-piece ensemble of Jersey natives who play all sorts of instruments, from acoustic guitar to electric ukulele to djembe drum; and The Cheat Mountain Boys, a dulcimer band.
Of course, no festival is complete without food, and it abounds here. Look for funnel cake, farm fruit, kettle corn, seafood, Italian specialties, fresh-squeezed lemonade and more. The Sweets Suite Bake Shoppe Café, on the WheatonArts grounds, will be serving sandwiches, salads, beverages and baked goodies.
The festival is open Saturday, Oct. 6 and Sunday, Oct. 7 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is $10 for adults; $9 for seniors; $7 for students; and free for children 5 and under. On Sunday, thanks to a grant from PNC Arts Alive, visitors 17 and under will be admitted free. This grant supports the “Family Fun Days” program of no-cost Sunday admission to those 17 and under, through Dec. 30. A “Tomorrow Pass,” good for both days, is available by request.
The event will be held rain or shine on the grounds at 1501 Glasstown Road. Parking is free. Call WheatonArts at (856) 825-6800.
Romeo Glass. Minh Martin. Charlottesville, VA.
Samuel Yao Baskets. Ann Harbor, MI.