Bel Air festival is haven for crafts buffs


The annual Bel Air Festival of the Arts opens today at 10 a.m., filling the 7-acre Shamrock Park on Hickory Avenue with live bands, crafts and plenty of food.

Of the 400 available display areas, 350 will be filled this year with work by artists, photographers and artisans. Twenty-five spaces are to be occupied by children's arts and crafts.

"If you like crafts, you can't imagine the variety of things you're going to see here," said Donna Clauer, one of three coordinators of the festival. Joann Blewitt and Marcia Fithian are the others.

Musicians will perform all day on the bandshell's stage.

Among the performers are Bay City 7, a Dixieland band at 10 a.m., and the country band Friendly Fire, which will close the show. Appearing in between are Applause at 11:30 a.m., Sounding Brass at noon, the Vocal Images Show Chorus at 12:45 p.m., Starlight Squaredancers at 1:45 p.m., the Chuck Baker Orchestra at 2:15, the Silver Eagle Cloggers at 3 and the Bel Air Community Band at 3:30.

Performer Jerry Brown also will be at the festival today, walking amid the tents and craft displays performing his one-man vaudeville show.

In its 30th year, the festival generates funds for community scholarship programs, the library and school repairs, Ms. Clauer said. The committee used a portion of the proceeds last year, for example, to replace basketball backboards at Bel Air Middle School, she said.

The festival is also the major fund-raiser for the city Parks and Recreation Department, which over sees food and soda sales.

As many as 40,000 people have attended past fairs, Ms. Clauer said, with two-thirds of the visitors from outside Harford County.

The festival will be today, rain or shine. Shuttle bus service will be available from the MVA parking lot on Route 24.

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