Laurel Arts Festival moves to MARC parking lot

Ethnic-flavored hot dogs and acrylic portraits of pets are some of the entertainment coming to the MARC train station parking lot for the second annual Laurel Arts Festival on June 8.

Montgomery Street resident Ada Ghuman, who is spearheading this year's Laurel Arts Festival, is president of the Laurel Arts District Committee, a nonprofit group that grew out of the Laurel Arts District Exploratory Committee when they organized last year's festival.

In addition to LADC, festival sponsors include Klingbeil Capital Management, the Prince George's Arts and Humanities Council and the city of Laurel.

The city's involvement helped festival organizers move from the block-long C Street, where the first festival was held, to the spacious and visible Route 1 parking lot. Because of impending construction of Klingbeil's C Street Flats at the site of the former Laurel Police Station, Ghuman said, city officials got approval from the state to use the train station parking lot for this year's festival.

Festival parking will be in the train station parking lot literally on the other side of the tracks, near American Legion Post 60.

Ghuman said about 14 artists were chosen for the juried art show, and most are from nearby communities, such as Beltsville, Burtonsville and Columbia, with only one or two from Laurel.

"My goal was to get Laurel artists," Ghuman said, but not many answered her call for submissions.

In addition to the pet portraits, artists will be selling such works as jewelry, decorative furniture and sculpture, and members of the Laurel Art Guild will also have a booth to sell their original fine art pieces.

Ghuman said she wanted to include schools in the festival, but an arrangement to have Laurel High students paint a mural on-site fell through at the last minute.

"We wanted to include the schools, to reach out to all different types of organizations," Ghuman said.

Laurel small businesses have come on board to help sponsor the festival, including Key West Family Dentistry, Neighborhood Acupuncture, Minuteman Press, Breasia Productions and Marilyn Johnson Sewing Design Studio, owned by Laurel resident Marilyn Johnson, who is also on the festival organizing committee.

"We want to continue on the success of last year's festival," Johnson said. "Art is all over the community, we want to bring it to the forefront."

While the train station parking lot is a more visible venue, Johnson said, last year's C Street location had other advantages.

"C Street is the heart of the arts district, there are lots of arts businesses there," Johnson said, citing the proximity to the Patuxent River as another advantage as this added to the seclusiveness of the street festival.

"I'm hoping that if people see a second arts festival then it will be the emphasis for them to want to join, get involved with LADC and be more active in the community helping to plan more arts-related events," Johnson said.

LaLa's Hot Dogs, a local business, will sell hot dogs with toppings with an ethnic flair. Ghuman said the hot dog cart was a big hit at last year's festival.

Other festival food will be provided by Culinary Nomad, a food truck owned by Valerie Hoover, who uses local fresh produce for her unique wraps and other offerings.

Hoover is also helping to organize the festival, as is Steffanie McKee, of Main Street's Neighborhood Acupuncture.

Poets will read original works, a dancer will lead a dance-along to Afro-Cuban music and bands will play everything from Celtic sounds to rock and roll.

Ghuman said the mix of styles and artistic media is purposeful and supports her goal of exposing art to all types of audiences.

"Art is tied into everything we do," Ghuman said. "I'm trying to see if I can have people understand that and view it from different perspectives."

The Laurel Arts Festival is Saturday, June 8 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the MARC train station parking lot, 22 Main St. Entertainment includes Dogs Among the Bushes, Celtic charm, Irish, 11:15 to 11:45 a.m.; T. Edwin Doss and Radio Flyers, country/Americana/folk, 1:15 to 2 p.m.; Hundred Yard Smash, smooth bluesy/rock, 3:30 to 4 p.m.

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