Arbutus Arts Festival to feature wine tasting, 200 crafters, live music and more

The Arbutus Arts Festival is marking its 45th year Sunday, and organizers are bringing plenty of changes and additions to mark the occasion.

In addition to the usual features — specialty crafters, a beer garden, a car show and a kids’ entertainment corner — the one-day event will feature new attractions for visitors such as pet adoptions and a wine tasting.

“Each year we try to change something, someplace along the line,” said Sue Miller, chair of the Arbutus Arts Festival Committee. “This year we’ve just kind of had more ideas.”

Miller said she’s been involved in organizing the festival for about 35 years, serving as chair for about seven. On the day of the festival, she stays particularly busy.

“I typically go from one end of the street, all day long,” she said. “I want to see that it’s all running smoothly and everybody’s happy, but I also want to see what we’ve done.”

This year, in seeking new attractions, the committee is including a “chalk bus” and a first look at the soon-to-open OCAMocha coffee shop and cafe, to be run by University of Maryland, Baltimore County students.

Each addition brings the opportunity for visitors to explore more of Arbutus and hopefully get more out of the festival, Miller said.

The chalk bus is a 1979 VW Transporter that’s been covered in chalk board material — the entire exterior is a drawing surface. Anyone at the festival will be able to grab a piece of chalk and leave their mark and pose for pictures.

The Baltimore County Animal Shelter is set to bring its “cuddle shuttle” to the arts festival. The shuttle is a mobile adoption center and will be stationed off Sulphur Spring Road.

A spokeswoman for the animal shelter said adoption fees are $40 for cats and $50 for dogs. Anyone who adopts a pet at the festival will be asked to quickly remove the animal, however, as the festival does not allow pets.

Also for the first time this year, the festival is partnering with the Arbutus Social Club to host a wine tasting in the Daniel Patrick Dudley Hall on Stevens Avenue.

Brian Chaney, a club member who was appointed chairman of the wine tasting, said five wineries from across Maryland will be offering tastings and selling bottles. They are: Knob Hall Winery, of Clear Spring; DeJon Vineyard, of Hydes; Far Eastern Shore Winery, of Easton; Romano Vineyard and Winery, of Brandywine; and Whistle Stop Winery, of Dunkirk.

Tastings will be $10 for 10 samples, with the option to pay $5 for six more. The first 250 people will get a branded tasting glass, too.

In addition to the hundreds of crafters up and down East Drive, there will be a flower mart at the Greater Arbutus Business Association (GABA) office, which is located at 5407 East Drive.

Besides the new features, Miler said some of the classic attractions are getting tweaks or enhancements.

The beer garden, off Maple Avenue, will have a dedicated band. The car show, across the street from the wine tasting, will have food vendors and, for the first time, motorcycles. Vehicles must be at least 20 years old to be featured in the show.

Crafters can register up until the day of the event, when, Miller said, crafters on a waiting list might be able to grab a spot if someone else is a no-show.

“Everything has to be handmade or nonprofit; we do not allow any commercial vendors,” Miller said.

She’s also expecting more than 150 volunteers to staff different areas of the festival, like pizza stands and the children’s corner, which will feature face-painting, pony rides and crafts.

Vendors have to pay a fee for space on the street, and Miller said proceeds from the fees go to the Greater Arbutus Business Association. The association then uses that money during the year for projects such as planting flowers and mowing grass.

In total, Miller said she expects about 30,000 people to make the journey to the one-day arts festival.

“A lot of people ask me why I do this, because it does get tiring and it does get frustrating,” Miller said. “That day, it all works out, it all comes together. Everybody has a good time. I think that’s why I’ve stayed in as long as I have. We’re proud of what we do.”

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