Mathew Brock

The Pelican Bay Arts Association (PBAA) met at the Manley Art Center and Gallery Wednesday to answer a simple question: would they be able to hold this year’s Festival of Art at Stout Park happen?

After much deliberation, the answer was a resounding “yes” — provided they can fill some crucial roles and address some of last year’s biggest hurdles.

Wednesday’s discussion was led by Leslie Wilkinson, who will assist with advertising and public relation aspects of the event this year.

The festival is held in August at Stout Park in Brookings and features a variety of art-focused vendors and children’s activities. The event also features music and food.

The PBAA addressed what went well and what went poorly last year, as well as what they might do this year to make the event go a little smoother.

Most importantly, the PBAA identified the roles they’ll need to fill to ensure the popular event will happen. Currently, the PBAA needs to appoint a chairman to oversee the organization of the whole event, several jurors and someone tech-savvy to oversee vendor registration via an online program.

The discussion began by highlighting the difficulties they faced putting on the event last year. High among these concerns was the lack of younger volunteers to help with the heavy lifting involved in setting up the event.

“We need younger people with strong backs to do some of the work. We’ll get some people like that, the Boy Scouts and Lions club do that, but more volunteers helps,” said PBAA President Mike Dwaileebe. “We also really need someone to step up and take the chair for the event.”

While many PBAA members are more than willing to donate time and effort to the event, the aging group has found it difficult to keep up with the long hours and labor-intensive tasks required to set up, monitor and clean up after a festival. Dwaileebe said the average age of the members is around 55 and many who have had to take a direct role in the festival are exhausted from the effort.

Those at the meeting also discussed how many vendors to allow at this year’s event and how to space them. It was tentatively decided to allow 75 vendors to participate in this year’s festival, as well as setting limits on how many of a certain type, such as jewelers, would be allowed.

To ease the burden of signing up those vendors for the event, the PBAA has looked into using an online program, ultimately deciding to look for someone with the required technical know-how to maintain it.

Other concerns included having too many dogs at the event, the location of Port-a-potties and many vendors arriving late, hours after opening time.

The meeting quickly looked over the positive elements from last year, discussing the value of the event in the community. Several members stated a desire to encourage more fine arts at the festival as opposed to mostly arts and crafts.

The night wrapped up with a call of confirmation from the PBAA to see if they’d be willing to keep the event going. While a few logistics remain uncertain, it was decided that the event would proceed.

“This event was so spectacular, we really need people to step up and help us make it happen again. We got so much positive feedback from the community,” Dwaileebe said. “It would be a big loss not to see this happen. We encourage anyone who has the time to get involved.”

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