WASHINGTON — The Washington Arts Festival has changed venues and organizers and was temporarily canceled.

Through it all, the festival has survived and thrived and this year, organized once again by the Washington Park District, it's achieving a milestone.

The 10th annual festival will be from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Aug. 19 and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Aug. 20 in Washington Park.

The festival's first home was the downtown Washington square.

It outgrew the square and was moved to Washington Park in 2010, but nearly became history in 2014 when organizers from the Washington Arts Society canceled the festival because of issues related to the 2013 tornado that devastated Washington.

The Park District, with help from the Washington Chamber of Commerce and Washington Lions Club, revived the festival on short notice.

Brian Tibbs, the Park District's executive director, said no major changes were made in the festival this year. He thinks the formula of a family-friendly festival is

working.

About 75 percent of this year's 55 juried artists will come from within 20 miles of Washington, Tibbs said, but there also will be artists from places like Florida, Mississippi, Iowa and Wisconsin.

Erin Foster of Metamora is one of the area artists.She's been doing acrylic paintings for three years, but this will be her first time displaying her work at the

Washington festival and only her second festival overall.

Her festival debut was last month at the annual MackinawValley Vineyard Art & Wine Festival.

"It was a very positive experience," she said. "I met a lot of neat people and I had an opportunity get some exposure for my art."

She sold four paintings — three for $30 each and one for $100 — and thought she received constructive feedback from patrons.

"I guess the worst thing said to me was someone liked one of my paintings more than others," she said.

She'll have 17 paintings for sale in Washington, ranging in price from $30 to $300.

Foster has been the art teacher at Metamora Grade School for 12 years, teaching about 700 students in grades K-8 each year.

She admits she's not comfortable promoting herself as an artist and displaying her work at an art festival is out of her comfort zone, but she's determined to be a role

model for her students.

"I always tell my students to keep developing and pushing themselves as artists and try new things," she said. "That's what I'm doing. I decided this was the year to give myself a push."

She's even purchased a tent because of the Washington festival's park setting. Artists were in a pavilion at the Mackinaw Valley Vineyards festival.

Foster's husband Jake and children Brenden, 8, and Adalynn, 5, will be at the Washington festival to help and provide moral support.

Foster said her goal as an artist is to inspire the viewer to find joy and beauty in common-place objects.

"I challenge myself to paint an object people see or use every day and make people look at the object in a whole

new way," she said.

In addition to artists like Foster displaying their work, there will be a bounce house for children, live music, food, and wine and craft beer tasting in Washington Park.

Art at the Bodega studio in Washington will have opportunities for adults and children to paint pottery and on canvas.

This will be the third year for the wine and beer tasting at the festival.

"Having wine and beer tasting adds another element to the festival," Tibbs said. "Plus, making wine and craft beer is an art."

Seven types of wine from Morton-based Tres Rojas Wines winery and seven varieties of beer from six breweries will be available.

One of the most popular festival amenities will continue this year. Round-trip transportation once again will be provided between Washington Park and the parking lot across

Lincoln Street.

Volunteers drive two golf carts that are constantly on the move. In all, about 40 volunteers will work this year at the festival.

The festival committee is made up of Tibbs, Park District Recreation Manager Matt Suellentrop and Pam Tomka from the Washington Lions Club, which has sold food at the festival for several years.

"The festival is important for the Lions Club because it's their main fundraiser for the year," Tibbs said.

Tomka and Sana Becker, who taught art in the Morton School District for many years, made up this year's artists' jury.

Suellentrop took over Tibbs' job at the Park District after Tibbs became the executive director Nov. 1.

"We'll be moving Matt more and more into the front seat for the festival as he learns more about it," Tibbs said.

 

Steve Stein can be reached at 686-3114 or stevestein21@yahoo.com. Follow him on Twitter @SpartanSteve.