A fine and fair festival

It's festival time at the fairgrounds, featuring some of my favorite things: Hand-crafted, gorgeous, and delightful objects and other works of art. Made by nice people.

I'm talking about the second annual Essex Arts and Crafts Festival held at the Essex County Fairgrounds in Westport. It was so popular the first year that there are now two separate events in 2018. Plan for Friday, July 6 and Wednesday, August 1.

Stroll the fairgrounds

The outdoor setting is framed by distant mountains, and Lake Champlain is only minutes away. The County Fair is filled with excitement, from the rides to the mouthwatering scents of popcorn and cotton candy, but I find the fairgrounds equally appealing when this same space is about the art.

The outdoor setting and careful table arrangements create a delightful space to browse. If you really like something, remember that the artists enjoy discussing their craft. This gives me a story to tell when a guest in my home admires an object that I got from the fair.

Glen Van Wie makes these fun wooden puzzles.

As someone perpetually in seach of better ways to organize my spaces, I love the many options a craft fair offers. I get lovely things to look at, and then I can use these things to put stuff in so I can keep track of it all.

I have a basket for vitamins, a vase for summer wildflowers, and a pottery bowl for my keys and loose change. Both decorative and useful. That's my goal.

The Mountain Weavers Guild display is always a favorite. Always need many things to put things in.

It's wonderful to stray from the mass-produced consumer path to choose something that speaks to me in a special way.

Hard and soft

There's pottery and the fabric arts, paint and wood, baskets, jewelry, guitars, or soaps and lotions. I like indulging all my senses when it comes to artistic enjoyment.

Art comes in many different categories. Paintings might be the first mental picture when thinking about art, but the designs on pottery or heady scents from body products and candles are also art.

An idea of the bounty available.

I often don't know what I want until I see it. Sometimes I didn't even know I wanted something until I see it.

The first crafts fair featured all this to choose from:

Arts and crafts expected include: fine art painters, all who have local reputations and some that exhibit nationally: painters in oil, acrylics, water colors, creators of abstractions and portraits, local scenes, surrealist figures and suggested narratives; photographers of the natural world and landscape; a maker of hand-made primitive hooked rugs; weavers, knitters, and sewers of blankets, quilts, shawls, and clothing; an established potter whose domestic productions draw their decorative imagery from the natural world; a rustic furniture maker; a master builder of guitars; highly accomplished jewelers; basket makers; a candlemaker and a creator of soaps and lotions; creators of note cards bearing personally-worked painted, printed, or photographed images.

Trisha Best of Mace Chasm Pottery is a particular favorite, as I have similar tastes in colors and shapes.

I am sure many of these artists are returning this year.

Other items available

Even with two events this year, it's possible you won't be able to make it to them. That's OK because we have some wonderful shops and galleries that feature local artists too.

Painting fans will be spoiled by all the options, from scenic landscapes and nautical themes to fine examples of abstract approaches.

I love watercolor landscapes. They're a great way to showcase natural light.

The Lake Champlain Region, from stunning coastline to rugged cliffs, is a favorite subject, and a wonderful way to pick up a themed souvenir. Wildflowers, birds, and our glorious fall season are other colorful favorites.

Not every abstract appeals to me, but the one below does. It evokes the same feelings as lake and sky in a more realistic style.

If abstracts are to your taste, enjoy "Battle in Arcadia" by painter Mike Kaz.

Our quaint little downtowns in the region are walkable and browsable. Get treats, coffee, and meals along with admiring the interesting architecture or taking historic-themed walking tours.

Many of our downtown areas were once port cities so our beaches, waterfront parks, and fantastic scenic vistas are just steps away. Almost anywhere along the shore, there are the cries of the gulls and the cool lake breeze.

The Adirondack Art Association Gallery in Essex is a gorgeous space with a sculpture garden in the back.

However you seek out art, the search is a wonderful way to spend a day.

Find out more about places to hunt for treasure in the blog Browse our art shops. This is also a famous area for historic B&Bs. Explore more art venues.

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Art, music, Saranac Lake

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