Arbutus Arts Festival celebrates 40th anniversary

39th Arbutus Arts Festival
(Noah Scialom, Patuxent Homestead)

East Drive in Arbutus will undergo a massive transformation Sunday, May 19. Arbutus' Main Street will go from a quiet thoroughfare at 5 a.m. to a hub of activity from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., as more than 40,000 residents and visitors are expected for the 40th annual Arbutus Arts Festival.

The festival, presented by the Arbutus Business and Professional Association, will host more than 200 crafters selling handmade goods ranging from photos to jewelry to tie-dyed T-shirts.


"There's this massive movement of humans," said ABPA president Terry Nolan. "That is amazing to behold."

"By 6 (p.m.) that night it's all gone ... and it's as though nothing had happened," said Nolan, whose law office is along the crowded route.


The event is sponsored by the ABPA and is its largest annual fundraiser, planned and manned almost entirely by volunteers, Nolan said.

Sue Miller, chairwoman of the festival, said she has an average of two volunteers leading committees for the beer garden, crafters, concessions, pizza stands, operations, children's corner, entertainment, website and setup.

This year marks the festival's 40th anniversary and there will be several new offerings to the event.

"It started small and it has grown, and every year we try to add something a little bit different," said Miller, who has been meeting the committee to plan the festival since October. "With this being the 40th, we're doing a lot more things."


A car show that has more than a dozen entrants lined up as of May 10 has been planned for an area off Sulphur Spring Road.

An appearance by the band, "Appaloosa," on the stage in front of Pantry One on East Drive is another new attraction.

Miller said the band will be handling the entertainment duties that area resident Mike Major has assumed for the past 7-8 years, Miller said.

The festival usually lines both of the street from the end of East Drive to Sulphur Spring Road. This year, the attractions will extend across Sulphur Spring Road to Carville and Oregon avenues, in front of the Hollywood Movie Theater.

There will be a beer garden in the parking lot across from Sorrento's of Arbutus and carnival rides in the "kid's corner" in the parking lot at the end of East Drive.

"It's really exciting," Miller said. "We get a large crowd. We have a wide variety of food. We've got entertainment. We've got cars for the guys, crafts for the ladies, rides and games for the kids."

"We've got a little bit of something for everybody," she said.

Miller said that, for a crafter or vendor to show their wares at the festival, their product must be handmade.

"We don't do any commercial business. A lot of the other festivals allow that, we do not," she said.

"We like everything to be crafts," she said. "We want to keep it down to earth and just a fun-filled community day."

Nolan is a strong supporter of the guideline that requires all products to be handmade and appreciate the economic boost the festival brings each year.

"It need to be essentially manufactured by the person who has the booth so it's a true arts and crafts festival," Nolan said.

"By showcasing our downtown to tens of thousands of people who don't normally see it, we expand the base of our economic audience," Nolan said.

His wife, Patti Sue Nolan, said she loves attending the event every year and seeing the community represented in such a positive light.

"It's really amazing," she said. "It's mind boggling."

Someone even sings the Star Spangled Banner to kickoff the festival in the morning, she said.

"That's typical Arbutus. I love it," she said.

A new take on an old classic

Halethorpe resident Christina Vaughn will be participating in the festival for the first time this year, displaying her unique creations made entirely of duct tape.

"Actually, it all started with my 12-year-old and my 8-year-old," said Vaughn, who calls herself the Arbutus Duct Tape Lady. "They wanted me to make things out of duct tape and at the time I didn't even know the craft existed."

That was two years ago.

"At the time, I thought my kids had lost their mind, because they wanted me to make them something out of tape," she said.

Since then, Vaughn has expanded to include more than 65 rolls of different colored and patterned duct tapes with which she makes jewelry, handbags, bow ties, picture frames and more.

"I just, I make things out of duct tape," Vaughn said. "It's all 100 percent tape.

"If you can think of it, they have it," she said of tape patterns available, which now even feature professional and college sports team logos.

As she expanded her trade, she began a small, online business, selling her products out of her home. She said she is looking forward to participating in the arts festival and seeing customers face to face.

"I've done small craft fairs and vendor fairs, but nothing to this extent. So it's kind of like a real big feeler for me to see how it goes," Vaughn said.

"It's kind of a little nerve wracking, but at the same time really exciting," she said. "Part of my display is even made out of tape."