Mount Airy ArtsFest returns for a second year with nearly 70 vendors, food and its own little slice of beach built right in town.
The festival was organized by the Mount Airy Arts Alliance, a volunteer-operated organization supporting artists, performers, and those in the creative sector in and around Mount Airy. Part of the proceeds from the event also benefit Mount Airy Net, which aims to provide emergency assistance for families in need.
The event takes place at Watkins Park, 615 Center St., on Saturday, June 22 between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. It is free for all to attend.
The location changed from last year when the festival took place downtown. The park gives organizers more flexibility to create different spaces in the festival, including active areas where kids can run around without being on the asphalt of downtown streets, said Katie Giganti, vice president of the Arts Alliance. The elevated stage will let the sound of the music float across the park instead of being “contained within little segments” of downtown Mount Airy.
More than 60 artist vendors, including a few youth artists, will gather for the art market. Their handmade goods include paintings, prints, photography, stained glass, sculpture and jewelry.
Guests will also be invited to partake in the creative efforts by painting a community sculpture titled “Light Totems.”
Last year, in the festival’s inaugural year, guests could paint a set of giant letters that spelled out A-R-T.
“It was amazing to see the diversity in the people who enjoyed participating,” said Giganti. “We even had a dog, a woman with a dog, who put paw prints on it.”
Unfortunately, the letters were cardboard and not designed to last. This year, the Arts Alliance was awarded a grant from the Maryland State Arts Council to create a temporary public art piece, and therefore this year’s sculpture will be much sturdier to be displayed outside. The series of rectangular pillars are designed to be lit from within, and they will glow on Main Street for the community to see.
“Our hope is that it will kind of activate Main Street and people who get to paint on it during the festival are going to be able to come by and see their work on it and show their family and friends,” Giganti said.
Throughout the day, live musicians will play.
The Aloha Boys will start off that day at 10 a.m. with their brand of Kanikapila, an acoustic down-home, backyard-style Hawai’ian music, including everything from traditional to contemporary songs. Park Valley performs at 11 a.m. They are a local duet whose sound brings acoustic pop/rock vibes. Damascus-based American School of Inspiration performs at noon with a dance choreographed to include traditional Hawaiian and African styles intertwined. The Dirty Middle takes the stage at 12:30 p.m., with pop-blues. Samuel Powers is a band with a nostalgic ‘90s flavor and a lively energetic vibe that will perform at 1:45 p.m.
Food vendors will provide their own special form of artistry, with offerings including gourmet hot dogs, shaved ice, tacos, fried Oreos, fresh lemonade and gelato. For guests over 21, there will be a beer and wine tent.
The event is family-friendly with several activities planned specifically for children including a Bubble Performer and a photo booth with Carroll County Public Libraries’ Bookmobile.
One area will be set up like a waterless beach with sand, beach chairs and giant, 4-foot-tall beach balls.
“That’s going to be kind of like the chill zone away from loud music where parents can take their kids for a little quiet time,” Giganti said.
As a fundraiser for the Arts Alliance, the event will help them finance more creative projects locally like murals, sculptures and a public performance space.
“Our group is really trying to make the arts accessible to anyone, even non-artists. So by having events like this, [with] these giant sculptures that people can just come and paint with whatever they want — we don't care if you have artistic talent or not, just paint something on it. You know, paint a heart, paint a smiley face, whatever you want.
“It enables people to really connect with the arts more directly than if they're just going to … a more typical smalltown festival where you're kind of there as an observer instead of a participant.”