Artists swing into action for Coupeville Festival

It’s a festival known for its handmade crafts and artist demos, and this year, it could get more one-on-one.

It’s a festival known for its handmade crafts and artist demos, and this year, it could get more one-on-one.

Renowned photographer M. Denis Hill invited people to bring in their photos to the Coupeville Arts and Crafts Festival, and he will tell them what’s good and what needs help. But he promises the critiques are less Simon Cowell and more Paula Abdul.

“It’s positive and for classic stuff. Don’t make it look like a telephone pole is growing out of their head.”

Hill is among several artists involved in “Artists in Action” for the annual arts festival, Aug. 1 and 2.

This is the 46th year for one of Washington State’s oldest and continuously run festivals. It focuses on quality arts and crafts, handmade by artists from the Pacific Northwest and beyond.

There are 14 booths devoted to “Artists in Action” where local artists offer demonstrations and hands-on exercises. The artists will include Beverly Heising, who teaches instrument-making, blacksmith Wayne Lewis and fiber artist Marjorie Bachert.

“We really want people to get in there and participate. People can pull up a chair, and spend two to three hours watching an artist,” chairperson Mary Leonard said.

About 170 artisans will display their wares along Front, Coveland and Alexander streets. It’s a juried show, so artists must compete for a spot in the event, says festival president Tessa Gavin.

“That leads to the highest quality products,” Gavin said.

Nearby, food vendors will serve a variety of quick eats including French crepes, gyros and chicken skewers. And Northwest bands will perform throughout the afternoon.

An activities tent will be set up along Alexander Street where children can make free crafts to take home, or get their face painted for a nominal fee.

The festival is a major tourist draw for the city each year, and all the proceeds are given back to community projects.

“Coupeville goes from a small town into a city of about 15,000 people,” Gavin said.

Over $28,000 was allocated for community grants and scholarships in 2008. In the past, money from the event has paid for the petunia pots on Coupeville’s main drag, school projects and land for the library.

Ample parking for the event is offered about a block away, adjacent to the food and activities tent. The festival is also offering a free shuttle service from the Keystone Ferry to the main entrance. It will be on a continuous loop down Main Street across to Broadway and back in between ferry runs.

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