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24th Festival of the Arts Beautifies Lansdale Saturday

The event runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in Memorial Park, in the midst of Founders Day

Fireworks may be the most colorful things in the sky Saturday night, but during day, in , it will be the masterpieces of 80 artists and crafters during the 24th Lansdale Festival of the Arts.

Hurricane Irene put the Festival of the Arts on hiatus last year, but this year proves to be another successful Lansdale tradition. And in the event of rain, it will be moved to the auditorium at Penndale Middle School across the street.

"We automatically accepted everyone from last year into the program this year," said Lansdale Parks and Recreation Director Carl Saldutti.

The juried exhibit of fine arts and select crafts, and a celebration of performinga arts, runs 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.  

"People go through the jury process to be accepted into festival," said Saldutti. "There's a certain standard of quality they have to meet."

The juror - and judge - for this year's Festival of the Arts is Kass Morin Freeman, who is returning as the sole juror and judge after 13 years.

Artists will be competing for cash awards in a number of categories, on top of selling their work to the public.

Memorial Park Saturday will be adorned with watercolors, acrylics, oils, pastels, stained glass art, leather, wood, pottery, jewelry and more. 

Saldutti said a number of local businesses and companies sponsored the awards.

Here are the monetary prize amounts, categories and their sponsors: 

  • Best of Show - $350. Sponsored by Wisler Pearlstine LLP.
  • First Place, Oil/Acrylic and Mixed Media - $150. Sponsored by National Penn Bank of Lansdale.
  • First Place, Watercolors and Pastels - $150. Sponsored by Tyco Fire Suppression
  • Excellence in Watercolor - $150. Underwritten by Moyer Indoor/Outdoor in Souderton.
  • First Place, Graphics/Illustration/Photography/Sculpture/Fiber Art - $150. Sponsored by Keeney Printing Group of Lansdale.
  • Outstanding Craftsmanship - $150. Underwritten by Citizens Bank in Lansdale.
  • Outstanding Craft Exhibit - $125. Sponsored by Contract Cleaner Supply of Conshohocken.
  • Second place in all categories, except crafts - $125.
  • Third place in all categories, except crafts - $75.

Second and third place prizes are sponsored by Lansdale Festival of the Arts Committee.

Award money for the festival comes from proceeds from advertisements in the program booklet and direct solicitation from sponsors. Entrance fees paid by exhibitors also underwrite the cost, Saldutti said. 

What is a festival without food? This year's Festival of the Arts features the follow food vendors, who also paid a fee to sell at the event:

  • Big E's Food Concessions
  • Original Pincho
  • Chef Johnny Bravo Surf and Turf
  • J&J Kettle Corn 
  • Fudge Delight
  • Tyler Water Ice

Saldutti said the festival used to have local vendors when it first started. For instance, House of Ho and Little Szechuan used to sell at the festival, but those businesses were no longer interested, Saldutti said. 

"These people have been with us for quite some time. They committed to us for a number of years, and we are committed to them as well," Saldutti said. "We don't want to bring in too many food vendors. We went each of them to be fairly successful."

Saldutti said the mix of vendors works out well, as they offer "finger food" and treats for people to eat as they walk around the festival. 

In addition to fine arts, crafts and food, there will be performing arts throughout the day.

From 10 a.m. to noon, Walnut Street Chamber Trio will perform in the park. 

From noon to 2 p.m., check out the Eric Mintel Jazz Quartet.

The rest of the day will feature something for children and families in the form of storytelling and puppetry by Peter Bruckner.

Door prizes will also be featured at the event in the form of cash drawings at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.

"We will give away festival money that can be spent with any exhibitor, and we reimburse the exhibitor," Saldutti said. 

Saldutti said the Festival of the Arts Committee is pleased that the Founders Day Committee selected festival day to wrap themselves around on Saturday. 

"We have a lot of volunteers that help us out and make it possible," Saldutti said. "We love the support from council and the community."

Saldutti said the event brings out a lot of people to Lansdale.

"It's a celebration of visual and performing arts and the Parks and Recreation Department is happy to stage it every year. And this year, it's part of a bigger event," he said. "Lansdale is a buzz with people: Most are familiar with it, but maybe some haven’t been here before."

The Festival of the Arts began in 1988. Saldutti said a committee restructured the festival for two years before it came together.

"We looked at different juried and non-juried shows and felt that, to keep the level of quality of artwork up and keep the competitive level up, it had to be a juried show," Saldutti said. "The styles of art change year after year."

Saldutti said the target is two fine artists for every crafter, and they have tried to maintain that ratio every year.

"We looked at other shows - Sellersville has run one for several years, there's a Brandywine art festival, there's a show in Doylestown and in Chestnut Hill - and we didn't want to compete with them," Saldutti said. "That helped in selecting a date for this program, which is the weekend before Labor Day every year." 

What also helped in forming the Festival of the Arts was a questionnaire filled out by regional artists, asking them how far they were willing to travel, what awards they are used to seeing and so on.

"We gathered all this information and ran the first program 23 years ago," Saldutti said. "Another thing we do, which we know is appreciated by the artists, is they submit an entry fee for the jury process, and if they are not accepted, we refund it 100 percent."

Saldutti said an art specialist is brought in prior to the festival to view pieces of artwork that potential exhibitors are required to submit that are representative of their work.

"The specialist looks at it for composition and quality; it's someone with an eye for art," Saldutti said.

Saldutti said a single juror is a lot less tedious than it would be with three jurors.

"We found that some programs run with a single juror. It's easier for us to find one than a panel of jurors," he said. "We like to keep it fresh and it expedites the process."

Saturday will see artists and crafters from as far as Wilmington, DE, Sinking Springs, West Chester, Lahaska, Dallas, PA, and Schuylkill Haven.

"This is not just a local show, but it's regional artists that come from all over to participate," he said. 

When you visit the Festival of the Arts, be sure to pick up a program booklet. The interiro features a map of Founders Day events.

"We think it will be a great day for the community and we're happy to be a part of it," Saldutti said. 

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