ArtsFest kicks off with huge crowd
A horde of people filled the Athens Area High School grounds Saturday to meet local artisans, play games and sample food from vendors at ArtsFest, an annual two-day long celebration that expects to see up to 30,000 visitors this year.
Over 140 artists and crafters registered for the event, a massive increase from the inaugural event which featured just 16. Additionally, almost 50 non-profit organizations, groups and local businesses made their way to the celebration.
For the most part mother nature cooperated from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday, despite cloud cover throughout the day with only some scattered showers hitting the area.
Children were exposed to activities including face painting, a petting zoo, horse-drawn wagon rides and access to the school's playground.
The mainstay of the event, located under the roof of the "clay tent," gave visitors the opportunity to be educated on the origins of the event, which holds roots dating back to 1996 when founder Dave Webster held pottery classes with students as an outdoor activity.
Athens students taught interested parties how to "throw" pots on a pottery wheel, a favorite of many kids, who tackled the messy task with little hesitation.
"It's quite overwhelming how fast this has grown into a major event," Webster said Saturday during ArtsFest, "I thought it would take more time to grow into this."
He said the gathering, which is free to attend, gives local artists access to a large audience.
The majority of the money ArtsFest is able to raise during the event goes right back into the budget for next year's event, and any left over money is generally donated to the school's art program, Webster said.
"It's amazing the feeling you get when the community comes together when needed," he said.
He thanked the school district and maintenance workers, the ArtsFest committee and the entire community for making the event possible.
ArtsFest continues today from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. with live music performances scheduled for both of the event's stages.
More information can be found at athensartsfest.com.
Tim Zyla can be reached at (570) 265-1634; email: email@example.com; or Twitter, @TimZyla.