Debbie Dotson traveled from Canada to her hometown of Havre de Grace over the weekend for a family reunion and to check out one of her favorite local events, the annual Havre de Grace Art Show.
“I think it’s one of the best events Havre de Grace has,” Dotson, 62, said as the two-day show wound down late Sunday afternoon.
A soft rain was falling Sunday, and a number of visitors held umbrellas as they perused the vendors.
The 55th annual Art Show ran Saturday and Sunday in Tydings Memorial Park along the Chesapeake Bay waterfront. More than 140 vendors were set up in tents throughout the open, grassy section of the park. Vendors who hailed from about 14 states, including Maryland, Delaware, Virginia, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Georgia, Florida, Kentucky and Maine, according to event chair Cindy Height, a member of Soroptimist International of Havre de Grace.
About 50 of the vendors were new this year, co-chair Julia Downer said.
Vendors are selected for the show through a juried process, according to Height.
“We try to keep the quality high,” she said.
Soroptimist International of Havre de Grace puts on the Art Show with support from the City of Havre de Grace, the Harford County Office of Community and Economic Development and multiple businesses, community organizations and individuals, according to the event program.
The show is the largest annual fundraiser for the all-volunteer Soroptomist International organization, with all proceeds going to the group’s annual scholarships, awards and community service projects. The organization distributed $18,000 in awards and scholarships in the spring, according to the Havre de Grace Art Show website.
In addition to the art vendors, visitors could check out live music, food vendors parked along Commerce Street near the park entrance, children’s activities at the Kid’s Korner and the park’s multiple pieces of playground equipment.
The city has overseen a host of improvements at Tydings Park over the past two years, such as refurbished walkways and entrances, new playground equipment that is accessible for users with disabilities, an upgraded war memorial and sod that was laid in late spring.
Dotson took note of those park improvements Sunday. She called the new playground equipment “excellent.” She said the enlarged war memorial makes it a little harder to see the water, but “other than that, it’s a really awesome idea, a nice tribute.”
“The Art Show just gets better every year, in my humble opinion,” Dotson said. “The talent is just tremendous.”
She grew up in Havre de Grace, attending local schools such as Havre de Grace Elementary School and Havre de Grace High School. Dotson said she has known Height, the event chair, since Height was 6 years old, and Dotson gave her a hug and thanked her for a great time as she and her friends prepared to leave.
Dotson has lived in Montreal, Quebec, for 21 years. She met her French-Canadian husband, Donald Royer, when they were living in California, and they eventually moved back to Montreal, where Royer grew up.
Dotson said she visits Havre de Grace two to three times a year and tries to schedule her visits around the Art Show and crabbing season, which starts in the spring.
She said her husband, a classically-trained animator, has not been to the Art Show because of his busy schedule.
“If I can get him here just one year, he’ll love this art show,” Dotson said.
She said she loved many of the pieces of artwork she saw, such as the handmade products displayed by the Venice, Fla.-based Nautical Sand Sculptures.
She took a photo of the artwork and said she will ask her husband to replicate it in wood form.
“He can do anything,” she said. “He’s really quite talented.”
Event organizers gave out first-, second- and third-place prizes — as well as a few honorable mentions — to exhibitors, based on their artwork category. The winners are listed on the Havre de Grace Art Show page on Facebook.
Justin Cavagnaro, of Dagsboro, Del., won first place in the glass category. A number of his brightly-colored pieces were on display under his tent.
“First and foremost, the location is gorgeous,” Cavagnaro said of what he likes about the Havre de Grace show, which he has been attending for about six years.
He said he enjoys meeting customers, including new and repeat buyers, and explaining his process to people regardless if they buy something.
Cavagnaro said he has formed relationships with his repeat customers over the years.
“It’s nice to pick up where you left off in conversation and to see their reactions to new work that you might be making,” he said.
He has also formed relationships with other artists at the show, some of whom he only sees at the Havre de Grace show. He also shows his wares at events in Connecticut, Long Island, N.Y., and Maryland, any location that is about a five-hour drive from his home.
“The social aspect is as important as any factor,” Cavagnaro said.
Warren Tull, of Havre de Grace, and his friend and neighbor grooved under a tent to music from Frank and Trish Curreri, of Vintage Entertainment in Nottingham.
The Curreris, a husband-and-wife team, performed hits from artists such as Frank Sinatra, Patsy Cline and country singer Alan Jackson. Frank Curreri also paid tribute to the nearby Chesapeake Bay with his rendition of “Moonlight Feels Right” by the band Starbuck.
“Thank you for hanging out with us today, you’ve got a great town here in Havre de Grace,” Curreri told the audience.
He closed the show by honoring veterans and active-duty military members by singing “God Bless America,” and he asked veterans in the audience to raise their hands.
Tull, 72, was one of several people who raised their hands. He later said he served in the Marine Corps from 1967 to 1969 — he was not deployed to Vietnam and spent his service in the U.S., much of it in South Carolina.
“I think it’s appropriate,” Tull said of the tribute. He said many artists who perform during Young at Heart gatherings for local seniors at the Havre de Grace Activity Center do the same.
“Normally, the people that come in and entertain the seniors, they have a patriotic ending to it,” Tull said.