Pilot story and photos
by ANDREA BARKAN
Temperatures may have been low, but spirits were high Saturday and Sunday at the 11th annual Festival of the Arts in the Port of Brookings Harbor.
The festival escaped rain Saturday but the gray sky finally wrung itself out Sunday, forcing about 40 of the 100 vendors to leave early because of tent leaks.
Still, the festival was a huge success, chairperson Jo Mochulski said.
"The rain had a surprising effect. It really brought out the spirit of the festival," Mochulski said.
"The camaraderie among the vendors, the positive attitudes and sense of humor were readily apparent," she said.
"The committee rolled with the punches, moving booths out of flooded areas and making other adjustments as necessary."
Mochulski estimates total attendance at around 6,000 people.
People stopped by the information booth Saturday to share their opinions of the festival with committee members.
"The comments from people have been really complementary," Mochulski said Saturday afternoon.
Most people remarked on how the festival just gets bigger and better, she said.
Vendor Cathy Norton sold sea kelp baskets. Norton, who participated in the first festival more than a decade ago, reminisced about its humble start and reflected on its formidable presence today.
Norton said a handful of vendors clustered outside the Espresso Gallery the first couple of years. She recalls setting up a cardboard table, covering it with paper, and setting out about 10 kelp baskets to sell.
The festival began to resemble what it is today when the committee began organizing it, she said.
"Every year it gets bigger and bigger," Norton said.
"Everyone says the quality of the artwork here is so superior," Norton added.
That's exactly what shopper Marilyn Kelso said.
Kelso, who moved to Brookings about a year ago, said the quality of work at the festival exceeded her expectations.
"It's awesome," she said. "I've heard it was really nice, but this is different, it's not your normal craft-show quality."
She browsed intently in the Gita Maria booth, lightly fingering the detailed, whimsical silver and glass-enameled jewelry.
a Maria Sturm, of Gold Beach, has made jewelry for 20 years. She sells nationwide at art and trade shows.
This was Sturm's second Festival of the Arts the only local show she does.
"It's close to home," Sturm said. "It's one of the nicest shows around here. This is just a great show."
The traditional kids' corner, sponsored by Chetco Community Public Library, was another popular festival spot.
Children's Librarian Dori Blodgett and other volunteers led children in hat making, bead work, easel painting and rock painting.
Children kept volunteers busy Saturday.
"We were slammed," Blodgett said Saturday afternoon.
"There were so many children you couldn't find a piece of grass to stand on."
Mochulski said the committee is already embarking on the planning process for next year's festival.
"Overall the vendors did very well, enjoyed the show and are anxious to be accepted into next year's show," Mochulski said.
The deadline to enter the 2005 show is May 15, 2005. Festival of the Arts is always the third weekend in August.
For information, call (541) 469-7120.