Artists Are Doing Well At Highlands Festival
By Debra McCown | Bristol Herald Courier | August 04, 2008*** This story was published Aug. 1, 2008 in the Bristol Herald Courier. ***
ABINGDON, Va. ? Before the rain started Wednesday evening, several vendors were packing up and several more were setting up at the Virginia Highlands Festival.
"It gives it new life," said Robbie Gentry, a glass bead artist from Knoxville, Tenn., who was preparing her booth. "People know to come back because they know there's some turnover."
Kris Tracy, co-chair of arts and crafts for the festival, said 11 new vendors arrived this week to replace those who are leaving, and 19 more will arrive next week.
As the festival's second weekend approached, vendors said they were selling their work despite the slumping economy.
Painter Janice Beck, whose booth is across the aisle from Gentry's, says the artist who was previously in Gentry's spot actually did better at the festival this year than last. Beck said she, too, was doing fine.
Kimberly Erb, a painter from New Philadelphia, Ohio, said she has received some commissions for custom art work.
"It was slow during the week, but a lot of interest still," said Erb, adding that the country's economic woes are mostly hype.
Tracy said at least one artist has already sold a $6,000 painting at the festival.
"One thing you've got to remember is that people who have money are still going on vacation," said Jerry Mitchell, a potter. "If they're able to afford a $300 room at the Martha [Washington Inn] and spend $5 a gallon for gas, they can buy art."
Jo Stephens, an artist who paints glassware, said she also had a good show.
"I'll be back next year," she said as she packed up Wednesday.
Musical entertainment scheduled for the festival this weekend centers around a Celtic theme; musicians include Appalachian Highlanders Pipes & Drums, Coyote Run, Hunting McLeod, Jack Beck & Wendy Welch, and Sigean and Tempest.
Some other weekend highlights will include a Civil War encampment; Tomato Fest, which will celebrate the many types of tomatoes at the Abingdon Farmers Market Saturday morning; and a teen car show at noon in the parking lot of the Abingdon Police Department.