Downtown Flagstaff taken over by arts festival over the three-day weekend
By MacKenzie Chase
The smells of kettle corn and barbeque filled the air as the usual tranquil atmosphere of Wheeler Park was transformed into a bustling festivity of art. Gray clouds covered the sky, but that didn’t deter art enthusiasts from showing up for the 20th annual Art in the Park Festival, which was held downtown this past Labor Day weekend. From jewelry and clothing to pottery and paintings, there was something to interest everyone there.
The festival is held over both the Fourth of July and Labor Day weekends so no worries if you missed it; that just gives you a perfect reason to stay in town over the summer for the next round.
The Flagstaff Art in the Park Facebook page describes the event as a display of “fine art and fine crafts designed and shown by . . . nearly 100 artists from across the Southwest.”
One of the artists who had a booth at the festival was Maryann Hamel. She displayed her handmade creations to promote her business, Curliosity Metalworks.
On how she got started making her designs she explained, “I got a work study job at the craft center of my college . . . and then I worked in engineering; and when my kids came along I picked this up as a part time job. The older they got [and] the less they needed me, the bigger this business became and now I’m putting them through college.”
Hamel said she’s been coming up to Flagstaff to be a part of the festival for the past 10 years.
“I’m from Phoenix and, even though it’s a lot of work, I like it because it’s nice and cool up here and I usually do okay.”
She works with copper and brass wires to create original pieces of art with a one-of-a-kind feel.
“I would say [I get ideas from] my own creativity and requests from customers. I listen to what my customers want and a lot of the designs I have now started from a request,” she said.
The hanging ornament designs on display in her corner tent include motorcycles, birds, angels, cacti and dogs. Placed along the edges of the booth are beautiful wind chimes twisted around marble spheres that catch the light perfectly. The occasional addition of silver or stones set off the designs nicely as well as complimented the copper.
“People like the copper because . . . this is the copper state, [so] it makes a good souvenir,” said Hamel. “My pieces are small so if anyone is travelling, they’re small and lightweight to carry home.”
This past weekend had mostly ideal conditions for the festival; despite the occasional downpour of rain and subsequent sprinkling, many people from outside of Flagstaff flocked to Wheeler Park for the semi-annual event.
Rod Tolman and his wife Kathy came up from Mesa, AZ, to visit this weekend and get out of the notorious Valley heat.
“I was just reading in the paper this week and saw that they have the county fair up here and the arts festival so I called my wife on the phone, I said what do you think about, for Labor Day, going up to Flagstaff?” Rod said.
Luckily, they made the right decision to come here. After stopping by the fair on Saturday, they spent Sunday afternoon relaxing at Wheeler Park and enjoying all of the art on display.
“We’ve really been impressed with this arts festival . . . they have some excellent displays here,” Kathy said.
Aside from the main attraction of the artists, the whole weekend also featured live music throughout each of the days. Some of the musicians included Kent Simmons, Ed Kabotie, the Buzzard Brothers, Brian DeMarco and Matt Hall.
One group of performers that especially caught the attention of the festival-goers was the Al Rakasaat Middle Eastern Dance Group. Taught by dance choreographer and percussionist Karen Custer Thurston, the troupe danced and twirled around, using their clothes as props just as much as their bodies.
Kids were kept busy when they got tired of the art with several bounce houses and a petting zoo.
Overall it was a nice, peaceful weekend in Flagstaff. Kids and dogs alike enjoyed themselves and people got the opportunity to take home handmade pieces of art.
More posts by MacKenzie Chase »
MacKenzie is a sophomore journalism major and A&E writer for The Lumberjack. This is her second semester with the newspaper.
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