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Expanded Arbutus Arts Festival set for May 15

Expanded Arbutus Arts Festival set for May 15
Gabby Nickerson, 2, of Arbutus, drinks from a large lemonade in front of a stand at the Arbutus Arts Festival on May 17, 2015. The festival, which is put on by the Arbutus Business and Professional Association, featured over 200 vendors on the streets of downtown Arbutus. (Nicole Martyn / Baltimore Sun Media Group)

Holly Hagen spends her year traveling up and down the East Coast to attend about 25 trade shows on behalf of her business, Creative Capes, with the hopes of selling her share of capes designed for children.

Her upcoming show intrigues her. It's a 15-minute drive from where she's based in Elkridge.

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The irony, she said, is she had never been to the Arbutus Arts Festival before, despite being in business since 2010. The annual event, in its 43rd year, is set for Sunday, May 15.

Hagen is excited for the new opportunity.

"A challenge for a lot of promoters is to get the word out and pull people from the community," she said. "(In Arbutus) there's a strong sense of community and all the locals come out and support events."

Hagen is one of more than 120 crafters making their Arbutus Arts Festival debut this year, according to event chairman Sue Miller.

In total, more than 225 vendors will be in attendance at the event, 70 more than last year, she said, adding that as many as 30,000 people are expected to attend.

"This year it's just gone wild," she said.

The only thing stopping organizers from growing the festival now is space. There's a waiting list of about 15 crafters in case someone backs out at the last minute, Miller said.

"We have really expanded," she said. "We could keep going if we had the room."

The growth isn't limited to just the number of crafters. The children's corner and food offerings have also expanded for the rain or shine event.

Ron and Mary Ann Spoljaric make the pre-dawn drive from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, to Arbutus to sell their homemade wreaths and wooden goods, as they have for about 30 years. The Arbutus festival is one of the larger venues the couple takes part in each year.

Artist John Kennedy waits for customers at the 1974 Arbutus Arts & Crafts Festival.
Artist John Kennedy waits for customers at the 1974 Arbutus Arts & Crafts Festival. (Baltimore Sun)

"As soon as it starts getting daylight and we're allowed to set up, people just start coming in," he said.

Laura Laird of Pasadena, Maryland is another newcomer to the festival, where she'll be selling her magazine collages. Usually using a photograph for inspiration, she'll create a sketch then use parts of magazines to create her pieces. It can take between 30-40 hours to create a 16-by-20-inch collage.

She primarily sells her products on Etsy, an online marketplace for handmade goods. But attending the festival will provide a different perspective for Laird and her potential customers.

When she sets up her booth, she'll bring a piece she is working on of a Bermuda landscape. She is looking forward to the opportunity to talk about her craft to those who stroll by.

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For Laird, who started her part-time artist business about two years ago, it's the first time she's taking part in an outdoor show. She was impressed by the longevity and reputation of the Arbutus festival.

"To me, that says it's a pretty successful show," she said. "It just looked like a fun event."

IF YOU GO

43RD ANNUAL ARBUTUS ARTS FESTIVAL

When: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday, May 15

Where: East Drive, Arbutus

Call: 443-833-4548

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