by AARON BREWINGTON
In many places, Labor Day weekend is associated with cookouts and last-chance dips in the lake, but in Bloomington, the Fourth Street Festival of the Arts & Crafts has been woven into the community’s holiday celebration since its beginning in 1977. This year the festival will be held August 31 and September 1.
Running down East 4th Street from Lincoln Street to Indiana Avenue and sprawling up Grant and Dunn streets, this year’s event promises to be the biggest ever, says Vicki Munn, festival director, with 125 artists and an estimated 30,000 to 40,000 attendees.
Attractions include a musical tent that will include the Bloomington Community Band and O2R Blues Band (and many others), a children’s activity booth hosted by Lotus Education & Arts Foundation, a spoken word stage presented by the Writers Guild at Bloomington, and, of course, artists and their work.
“Our goal is to bring art to the community and give everyone the opportunity to meet a real artist,” Munn says. “That is the beauty of this. These are working artists making their living.”
As a juried art fair, not just anyone gets a booth. Voted on by 17 festival committee members, participating artists must first submit slides of their work, which are judged by craftspeople in the artist’s field.
Local artisans participating this year include watercolorist Dawn Adams, potters Kris Busch and Jim Halvorson, weaver Suzanne Halvorson, and jewelers Jack and Marian Forney.
New this year will be the Limestone Symposium—a stone-carving workshop led by sculptor Sidney Bolam.
As the festival organizers look to the future, with most of the original members gone and the second-generation aging, Fourth Street Festival president Marilyn Greenwood and Munn recognize that younger artists are vital for its survival.
“Now we are trying to make this sustainable for when we are gone,” Greenwood says. “We want to hand it to artists who care about the tradition.”
For more information, visit 4thstreet.org.