Sponsor spotlight: Making the Edmonds Arts Festival magic happen — part 1, setting up the field

Photos courtesy Edmonds Arts Festival

A day spent at the Edmonds Art Festival is a treat for all the senses. Over Father’s Day weekend, the playfield of Frances Anderson Center transforms into a mini art “village” with well-laid out “streets” – named after famous artists, naturally. Each row is filled with beautifully designed artisan booths displaying a variety of unique art for sale. As you take it all in, you’ll hear the laughter and playful shrieks of children on the playground. You might take a break from your browsing for a rest at the outdoor amphitheater to hear fabulous music by local musicians. The irresistible scent of a new batch of kettle corn blends with the delicious aroma of a freshly pulled shot of espresso. And the views – oh the views! Sparkling blue water set against the vivid Olympic mountains can be quite the distraction while you assess the wonderful food truck options for lunch. 

The Edmonds Arts Festival is a carefully curated experience with so much to do and see. From the Field to the Galleries to the Plaza, each section is managed by a team of volunteers that plans and works for months to ensure an amazing experience for visitors, artists and vendors. The Field is the largest, most visible element of the Festival. Take a peek behind the scenes to see how the magic happens. 

Choosing the best from elite and talented artists all over the country

Each year from the end of November through the end of January, over 400 artists across the country apply to become one of our Field Artists. A multitude of different disciplines are accepted, including ceramics, traditional crafts, drawing/pastels, fiber, garden art/metal, glass, jewelry, mixed media 2D and 3D, painting, photography/digital, printmaking, sculpture wearables/leather and wood.  

Field Artist Directors Cheryl Waale and Angela Bandurka then begin the challenging work of whittling the list to around 170 artist booths. Entries initially go through a blind jurying process, after which Cheryl and Angela finalize the list with the goal of keeping a good balance of each discipline. The result is a diverse and abundant field with artists from different backgrounds and disciplines that represent a variety of prices points and subject matter. 

Adding food and live entertainment 

Both the food booths and the live entertainment go through a similar jurying process. Food Booth Directors Tom Hafford and Jerry Freeland receive approximately 40 applicants each year that are eventually culled down to a select group. From savory main dishes to sweet treats, the goal is to offer a delicious and balanced ratio of food choices for all tastes and cravings. 

Performing Art Directors Kellee Bradley and Rachel Gardner receive over 90 applications from local musicians and performing artists – including students – to fill a select number of time slots on two stages during the three-day weekend. They carefully curate a variety of performances to keep crowds entertained all day long. Whether visitors stay and watch on the grass or simply meander near the stage, the live music and performances add another wonderful layer to the festival experience.  

Laying out the field: The park-like setting does not happen by accident

The well-choreographed dance of the field set-up happens the day before the festival. Schedules and maps are sent to each artist and food vendor in advance so that load in and set up happen in the most efficient and organized manner possible. A group of volunteers help guide each artist and food vendor to their assigned spot, each an important piece of a puzzle that has been carefully planned well in advance. This “organized chaos” is wrapped up by the time the festival opens. On Friday morning, visitors are welcomed with big smiles, great displays, beautiful art and plenty of excitement for a wonderful summer weekend.  

Why do we do it? 

The Edmonds Arts Festival has been a cherished event in Edmonds since 1958. Thousands of people flock to this event held annually on Father’s Day weekend to browse the galleries, meet artists, shop, socialize with friends, and enjoy entertainment by performing artists in a beautiful setting in the charming, waterfront city of Edmonds – home of the first certified Creative District in Washington state. 

A portion of profits raised by the Festival each year is given to the Edmonds Arts Festival Foundation, a 501(c)(3) organization, which supports educational and cultural enrichment of our community through the arts. The Foundation awards art scholarships, education grants, and installs public art. In addition, they support ArtWorks, a gathering place for artists in downtown Edmonds, and many other local art groups including the Edmonds Center for the Arts, the Edmonds Art Studio Tour, and Cascadia Art Museum. 

This year, Edmonds Arts Festival runs June 14-16, 2024 (Friday and Saturday 10 a.m.-7 p.m., Sunday 10 a.m.-5 p.m.) at the Frances Anderson Center, 700 Main St., Edmonds. Learn more about what there is to see and do at edmondsartsfestival.com.  


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