A&E: Celebrate the Arts

An unmistakable sign of spring is the annual Downtown Edmond Arts Festival, a three day celebration of visual, performing and culinary arts.

“It’s going to be a great show – one of the best,” said Bryanne Wallace, festival co-director. Wallace and Co-chair Becky Crow have been running the show for the past few years.

Each year, more than 100 artists line the streets. Many are from Edmond, but some travel from as far away as Florida or California. Oil and acrylic artwork, photography, jewelry and pen and pencil sketches are just a few of the media represented. Designer crafts like mosaics, glasswork, leatherwork and pottery are also on display and for sale. This year will feature 15 new artists and many returning favorites. The celebrity artist is Edmond photographer, Patrick Hall.

“None of the art is commercially made; it is all done by the artists themselves,” Wallace says. “Everyone has their own technique, we never see two paintings alike. There is a huge variety.”

Jewelry artist and longtime festival participant, Stephanie Carel, will present her work again this year. She and her mother Diana Pate, and sister Sondra Reid, comprise Silver Leaf Gems. “We do everything from turquoise to freshwater pearl, coral and different kinds of sterling silver pieces,” Carel says.

Eight-year veteran, Rory Morgan will be submitting his landscape and wildlife paintings. “It’s a good show,” he says. “There’s always anticipation. People are always in a hurry to get down there and see what’s new.”

Morgan will present 35 new pieces at the festival. “I paint mostly realistic things. I like things to look like they really are and I think that’s why people like my stuff,” he says.

Morgan participates in a variety of festivals, but he appreciates the Downtown Edmond Arts Festival in particular. “The mark of a good show is if people want to come back — customers and artists. If the artists don’t want to come back, something’s wrong,” he says. “The fact that everyone wants to come back each year is a good testament.”

“Our visitors enjoy our festival because we have affordable art and a kid-friendly environment,” says Leah Kessler, Downtown Edmond Business Association promotions manager.

“We always have a lot of new art and there’s always new food,” Wallace said. “There will be more food this year than we’ve ever had before.”

More than 20 food vendors will offer Indian tacos, catfish, funnel cakes, German food, pizza, smoothies and other festival favorites. Guests age 21 and older will be able to enjoy wine tastings from Oklahoma wineries.

The festival boasts a large children’s area with a ferris wheel, climbing wall, moonwalk, large slide, pony rides, face painting, crafts and more. Free activities, like a beanbag toss and duck fishing, will also be available.

The Oklahoma City Philharmonic will be performing that Friday with local favorites. Music on the Plaza participants include Edgar Cruz, Justin Echols, Stephanie Jackson and many more. Latin American folk musicians Inkapirka will return this year to wow audiences, as will “Bronze Man” Troy Scott and Chef Mike Varnell’s ice sculptures.

“We will have some wonderful storytelling, great bands, singers, dancers, piano players — all kinds of things and, of course, it’s all free,” Wallace says. “It’s great family entertainment.”

Businesses along the street will be open, and many will have special sales within the stores, Wallace says. “It’s a wonderful way to spend a great weekend in downtown Edmond.”

Now in its 31st year, the Downtown Edmond Arts Festival is sponsoring Parents Helping Parents. The nonprofit organization reaches out to parents who believe their children may be using alcohol or drugs.

The festival runs from Friday, April 30 through Sunday, May 2. Hours are 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday. No pets are allowed and admission is free.

For more information, visit www.downtownedmondok.com or call 249-9391.

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