With the threat of the remnants of Hurricane Isaac looming that caused weather forecasters to advise people to stay home, Art in the Gardens began on Labor Day weekend in 2012 — and even with the threat, 2,150 people showed up for the two-day event on the grounds of the Liberty Hall Historic Site, Wilkinson Street.
That memory has members of the steering committee thinking a lot about the weather for the event that runs from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday and 10-4 next Sunday. They’re hoping for highs both days in the upper 70s, clear blue skies, low humidity and a light wind!
And, given what they thought might happen last year, they deserve it.
Art in the Gardens, with artists and craftsmen set up all around the 4-plus acres of the site, is a “juried” art show, meaning those you’ll see this weekend have met certain criteria in order to be included.
“The first year (2012) was by invitation based on the artist having been juried into another art fair,” said Carol Baughman, chair of the steering committee.
“Of those who came, 30 are coming back this year,” said Vickie Sewell, chair of the artists committee. “There is a total of 51 artists and craftsmen exhibiting.”
A complete list of exhibitors, musicians and the times they are performing along with the names of food vendors setting up in the food court behind Liberty Hall appears in a special insert in today’s Spectrum section.
Like early Expo
For those who’ve been around town long enough to remember, Art in the Gardens is — and hopefully will remain — like Expo was during the 1970s and ’80s, when juried artists and craftsmen coveted spots around the fountains and their wares were the focus of the early-June festival.
“This (Art in the Gardens) grew out of the country fair at Liberty Hall that was part of the Living in History series,” Baughman said. “That event was a partnership with The Garden Club of Frankfort.”
While Art in the Gardens turns the spotlight on Liberty Hall, the Orlando Brown House and the gardens surrounding them, it’s not a “community” fair in the sense that all exhibitors are local — nor are the visitors.
“Last year, even with the threat of terrible weather, people came from many different places and we’re expecting that again.”
Since there’s a minimal admission ($3 for adults per day with children 12 and under admitted free), folks who come will do so because they want to see good arts and crafts, hear good music and eat food from good local vendors.
There will be three admission sites: at the gate to Liberty Hall, at the Orlando Brown entrance and at a gate by the gardens behind Liberty Hall across from the Kentucky Bar Association near the Ward Oates Amphitheater.
“Included in the admission is a free self-guided tour of the two museum houses,” Baughman said. “ Last year more than 500 went through them in the first three hours!”
In addition to the steering committee and the LHHS staff, a bevy of volunteers from the community will assist with everything from parking to exhibitor support.
“Last year we had 135,” said Elaine Johnson, volunteer coordinator. “This year I’d like to have a few more.”
While two training sessions have already been held, there’s one more for those who’d still like to step up. It’s set for 5:30 p.m. Thursday at the Orlando Brown House. For more information, call Johnson at 502-223-4443 or Kate Hesseldenz at 502-227-2560. More information and an application form are also available at www.ArtintheGardensatLibertyHall.com.
In addition to the good feeling you’ll get from the experience, volunteers also receive a bright orange shirt designed especially for those serving. And, it’s yours to keep.
“These volunteers become the ‘faces of Frankfort,’” said Johnson. “They are the first people visitors will meet and are vital to the success of the event. Last year we received nothing but rave reviews from the artists about the volunteers willingness to help — especially when the festival was over and they stayed in what had become a pouring rain.”
Plenty of music
Jim Pierce is heading up the music and entertainment area of Art in the Gardens. Performers will be set up on a stage behind Orlando Brown.
“There’ll be seven hours of entertainment Saturday,” Pierce said, “and three (hours) on Sunday.”
Several of the entertainers are from Frankfort and three are from out of state.
“There will also be little pop-up concerts all around the area,” said Pierce. “This will give it a true art fair feeling.”
For the kids
There’ll be interactive art projects for children spearheaded by art teachers Brian Murphy, Hearn Elementary and Jody Jaques from Good Shepherd School.
“Last year we guessed at the number of kids and we got about twice that many,” Baughman said. “We survived but this year we’ll be prepared.”
Jules Foster, executive director of the Liberty Hall Historic Site, said she’s always believed the whole site to be a “hidden gem in Frankfort,” and she’s a Frankfort native.
“This is a wonderful community event. It brings people together in this great setting.”
Baughman said the artists have praised the festival, calling in an “intimate fair.”
“At a lot of the bigger fairs like Woodland (Lexington) and St. James (Louisville), the artists are so packed together and there are so many people it’s hard to get into or even stop at their booths, let alone talk to them.
“That won’t happen here because of this garden setting, music playing in the background, people mingling and walking around. It’s just a more intimate atmosphere for exhibitors and visitors.”
All that’s needed now are two days of 78 degrees with clear, sunny skies.