Arts & Leisure

It’s summer and time for our community’s largest celebration….the Anacortes Arts Festival. On August 5, 6, and 7, Anacortes will play host to approximately 90,000 Festival goers.

The Festival kicks-off with the Opening of our Fine Art Exhibition at the Port Transit Shed on Saturday, July 30th at 6pm. It’s magical to see the space transformed into a fine art gallery far from the urban scene. This year’s juror, Barbara Shaiman, spent many years curating the Seattle Art Museum’s SAM Gallery. Though there are highly acclaimed artists from around the country, visitors can still expect incredibly gifted artists from Anacortes, Skagit County, Bellingham and the Seattle area.  The Allen Family Focus Gallery is showcasing Anacortes artists Anne Schreivogl and Sue Roberts – along with Graham Schodda from Bellingham.  

If you want to see art and heavy equipment collide, Steamroller Block Printing is back in our Working Studios area in front of the Puget Sound Rope Company. Other highlights in that area include several public projects including a community mandala and pipe-cleaner weaving. A new PIANO-cortes project, painted during the Festival, will place pianos downtown Anacortes, where they will be available for public use during the month of August. Working Studios also features word-working, basket weaving, fabric marbling, needlepoint, plein air painting and more.

The Festival streets (starting at 10th St) are lined with booth artisans who have competed for a spot to be here.These 250 artists are the backbone of the Festival – and represent art and craft in every medium.We’re always looking for what’s unique and beautiful. Approximately 20% of this group are new this year – another group have been successful year after year with returning customers.

If music is important (and it is), we have 3 stages going from morning into the evening hours. Bands with local ties include A’ Town Big Band, Shidaa, Marcia Kester, The Jefferson Rose Band, Jacob Navarro, Madison Campbell, The Fantasy Band, Newton’s Law & Ol’Town Tonic. For the second year, the Manieri Endowment is partnering with the Festival to provide Jazz on the 10th Street stage. For a special tribute on Sunday at 11:30 (Main Stage), a local ukulele ensemble will be honoring their founder Richard Mitlyng. New this year is an Emerging Artist venue at the Heart of Anacortes. Local high school and young adult musicians and artists will have their own space to showcase their talent.  

To cover culinary needs, the Festival offers a smorgasbord of local, regional and ethnic foods – oysters, salmon, barbecue, sausage . . . and food trucks disbursed throughout the Festival. The Anacortes Kiwanis Sunrisers will be at the Port Dock offering homemade strawberry shortcake, fish tacos –pancakes and biscuits & gravy for breakfast. Three beer & wine gardens offer seating next to the stages; each with it’s own flair. Watch seagulls from the Waterfront Pub while drinking beer, wine and Bloody Marys. Margaritas and Micro-Brews are the theme for the Hideout Pub next to Main Stage. Jazz Stage hosts the Reunion Wine Bar with tasting and pours from several premier wineries (in addition to beer).

The 11th annual Art Dash, half marathon, 10k, 5k is moving to Festival weekend! This popular run on Saturday, August 6, routes along the Tommy Thompson Trail, ending up at the Port dock. The fun starts at 7 am for the half marathon.   Best of all, proceeds from the Art Dash (which is a partnership with Anacortes Parks & Recreation) funds public art projects like the new “Running” sculpture on R Avenue.     

Last, but not least, are our littlest Festival-goers (and we don’t mean dogs, who we hope are home where it’s quiet and cool).   We believe that kids should be able to get messy and have fun.   They might gather at the giant sand box, work alongside quilters to create fiber art – and perhaps end up in a music lab making creative sound.

While the Festival plans all year for this big weekend party to celebrate art, it is a 501 (c) 3 with a more serious mission to fund art in our community. Every extra dollar is reinvested in art – this year to the tune of over $60,000. The majority of our giving supports art education for children and support of other organizations. We are filling a gap in the education system, and hopefully creating a new generation of artists and creative learners.

For more information, visit the Festival website AnacortesArtsFestival.com

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