Tag Archives: Fine Arts Festival

Pics Of The Day #2231

Perfect weather, a wide variety of excellent artists, plenty of kids’ activities, a cool vibe — and did I mention perfect weather? — drew thousands of folks, from Westport and far beyond — to today’s opening of the 50th annual Fine Arts Festival.

The show — sponsored by the Westport Downtown Association, on Main and Elm Streets — continues tomorrow (Sunday), from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The forecast: Another fine day, filled with fun.

Westport photographer Tom Kretsch.

(Photo/Rainy Broomfield)

The Artists’ Collective of Westport is sponsoring a kids’ painting activity. After the show, 8 separate panels will be combined into one — and hung permanently in the alley by Anthropologie.

(Photo/Michael Pearl)

Music from the Suzuki School. (Photo/Rainy Broomfield)

The view from Rye Ridge Deli.

Westport Downtown Association president Maxx Crowley happily welcomes the crowds. (All photos/Dan Woog unless otherwise noted) 

Fine Arts Festival: 50th Year Will Be Biggest, Best

This weekend, Westport welcomes the 50th annual Fine Arts Festival.

That’s an alliterative way of describing one of our town’s greatest annual events.

But we can add 2 other “f” words: “fun” and “family.”

Despite its name, the Fine Arts Festival is not a leave-your-kids-home thing. Children and teenagers are absolutely welcome. In addition to seeing very cool paintings, photos, sculptures and more, there are activities especially designed for them.

There’s food and music too, for everyone. The arts take many forms, and on Saturday and Sunday Westport celebrates all of them.

The Festival began half a century ago, as a Main Street “art show.” Over the years it grew to encompass many more mediums. It morphed to Parker Harding Plaza, then moved back to Main Street. (And moved from the sweltering mid-July date to the much more pleasurable Memorial Day weekend.)

Under the direction of the Westport Downtown Association, the Fine Arts Festival has attracted top artists from all over the East. It’s added kids’ activities, and special touches like a Saturday night artists’ reception.

But it retains that special balance: a community event where you’ll marvel at the talent, meet your neighbors, have tons of fun, and be reminded that Westport was, and still is, an artists’ town.

(Photo/Lauri Weiser)

The 150 artists set up on Main and Elm Streets. Nearby, the Westport Artists’ Collective will organize a painting project. Youngsters can contribute to one of 8 pieces. They’ll look even cooler when they’re all connected, into one large mural.

It will then be placed in the alley near Anthropologie. Years from now — at the 75th Fine Arts Festival — grown-ups can tell their own kids, “I painted that!”

On Sunday, youngsters can participate in Westport artist Jana Ireijo’s “Vanishing Mural” project. They’ll draw a huge sperm whale (Connecticut’s state animal), with chalk on the street. It will eventually disappear — emphasizing the fragility of the natural world.

A massive art installation — “The Hive” — takes place near Sigrid Schultz Plaza, off Elm Street. Two artists have designed the 30′ x 19′ x 8′ work — an enormous pollinator garden — specifically for this festival.

It will be built on Friday. On Saturday and Sunday people can walk through the honeycombs and floral elements, interact with it, and take photos. When the festival is over, it will be be disassembled — gone forever.

Pieces of the exhibit will be available to buy.

Other kids’ activities include a real piano from Suzuki School to play and paint; a One River School paper project; kite and fan decorating, and face painting.

The performing arts stage in Sigrid Schultz Plaza will feature singers, dancers, the School of Rock, Triple Threat Academy, Songs on the Sound and other talent, all weekend long. Performances will take place at other downtown sites too.

Meanwhile, all around, there is art. The Top 20 nationally ranked juried festival draws regional, national and international artists working in oil charcoal, photography, sculpture, fiber, printmaking, mixed media, glass, ceramics, jewelry, wood and graphics.

All artwork is available for purchase, in a wide range of prices.

For more information on the 50th Westport Downtown Association Fine Arts Festival — including a list of participating artists — click here.

(“06880” supports the arts — and we need your support to keep doing it. Please click here, to make a tax-deductible contribution. Thank you!)

Herbertson Lauds Downtown Improvements

Last month, Randy Herbertson chaired his last meeting of the Westport Downtown Association. After 6 years he moves into the same role for the Downtown Plan Implementation Committee, an official town body.

Among the key activities of the DMA — whose mission is to “enhance the downtown experience for shoppers, diners and other visitors, with the goal of building business and economic vitality for our community” — Herbertson cites:

Trash collection and general outdoor maintenance not covered by local government. The town paid for the reconfiguration of Parker Harding Plaza, including installation of compactors with recycling. The DMA took over weeding and bed maintenance, with reimbursement from the town. Coming in 2022: “Baldwin and Church Lane.”

Beautification activation, including season outdoor décor. This includes a revitalized and upgraded banner program with non-profit partners; upgraded summer planting, including baskets, planters and barrels; street string lighting throughout downtown, and new holiday decorations, with street posts, barrels and a tree tour.

Main Street planters

Communication and collaboration with merchants and residents. Progress includes a website with robust merchant listings, commerce and event features; 250% membership growth, with bi-weekly digital and physical communication merchant support advertising and social media; consistent consumer communication via a database of 16,000, and exponential social media growth; long-term in-kind and paid media partnerships and relationships.

Sponsorship and oversight of events that reflect the varied interests of consumes, complements the district profile, and drives consumer traffic. The WDA revamped their event calendar to discontinue events that were not traffic drivers or financially manageable; added new events like Westoberfest, Fashionably Westport, and Health & Fitness Day; revitalized the Westport Fine Arts Festival by returning it to Main Street and beyond; enhanced Sidewalk Sales with street closures, additional dates and more support; closed Church Lane and added entertainment, and grew sponsorship revenue by 200%.

Collaboration with other Westport organizations having interests and responsibilities for downtown. This includes the Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce, non-profits, local and state governments such as the Board of Selectwomen, Planning & Zoning, Police and Fire Departments, and Westport Weston Health District.

The Fine Arts Festival returned to Main Street and environs.

Herbertson also cites partnerships with town and key constituencies “through the darkest days of the pandemic,” and the establishment of the WDA as a full non-profit 501(c)3.

He notes progress in areas like burying cables throughout the district; rebuilding Elm Street and Church Lane; the new Sigrid Schultz parking lot, and 2 upcoming projects: rebuilding the Baldwin lot (this spring) and revamping Main Street (this summer).

Starting in 2023, Herbertson says, “even more dramatic updates” will begin. A new design and build RFP will go out soon to address Parker Harding, Jesup Green and the Imperial Avenue parking lot.