Art lovers peruse a spectrum of work from some of the best local and regional artists at a previous year’s Fourth Street Festival. Photo by Peter Hamlin

Editor’s note: The following is adapted from a press release from the Fourth Street Festival of the Arts and Crafts.

The 45th annual Fourth Street Festival of the Arts and Crafts will return to Bloomington on Labor Day weekend following a year-long hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The festival will be held on East 4th Street between Grant Street and Indiana Avenue from September 4–5.

For many artists, the Fourth Street Festival will be the first art show they have attended in more than 18 months. In order to ensure a welcoming, safe space for patrons and to allow for social distancing, the festival committee has arranged to have only 80 booths instead of the usual 125.

Additional safety measures currently include a mask requirement for artists and patrons, and hand sanitizing stations placed throughout the festival.

The Fourth Street Festival will partner with the Lotus Foundation to provide a children’s tent where young patrons and their parents can pick up a take-home project, however, the music and spoken word stages, as well as the community booths, will be virtual again this year.

These measures, as well as the limited number of attending artists, are subject to change with CDC recommendations as the festival approaches.

This year’s festival will celebrate the ingenuity and resilience of the participating artists during the pandemic. For artists who typically relied on income from an average of 20–30 art shows each year, 2020 delivered a serious blow. Many artists found ways to shift their sales to an online platform, and from their quarantine periods, artists saw a shift in the kind of art they were producing.

“Creativity is often sparked when one allows oneself to be still,” explains potter Kris Busch. “Many of us have been able to put effort into creating new bodies of work without the pressure of considering how the public will react to it, and just letting the ideas flow. It’s been very freeing.”

Bloomington painter Dawn Adams, who says she found 2020 to be a year of experimentation and introspection, agrees. “Without the immediate pressure to sell, there was the opportunity to look at my work with fresh eyes and ask, ‘What kind of art would I like to make just to satisgy myself?’” she explains.

Although the jurying for this year’s lineup of artists at the Fourth Street Festival is still in progress, festival officials say there will be a mix of old and new artists from Bloomington, the Midwest, and beyond, with lots of new work inspired by a time of challenge, change, and stillness.

“Online sales cannot compare to art fairs for volume of sales and the quality of in-person interactions between patron and artist,” says potter Rebecca Lowery. “Each artist’s work is unique, and some work just needs to be seen in person.”

The festival will be held from 10 a.m.–6 p.m. on Saturday and 10 a.m.–5 p.m. on Sunday. For more information, visit