Charles City’s Artafest now in its 45th year

By James Grob, jgrob@charlescitypress.com

There have been 45 Artafests in Charles City, and Janeice Bergland has been to 44 of them.

“I’ve exhibited at all but one,” said Bergland, who has also served on the Artafest Committee, “off-and-on.”

A local artist and signature member of the Iowa Watercolor Society, Bergland said the first Artafest was five years after the infamous 1968 tornado hit Charles City, and it lasted five days.

“There were a lot of celebrations going on that year,” she said.

The first event was located at a house and barn just outside of town. The house was used as the gallery and the barn was also a theatre, utilized by the Stony Point Players.

Since then, the event has been located at several parks and other locations throughout Charles City. Artafest has been in Central Park for about 30 years.

“I think people have enjoyed having it in Central Park and it allows a lot of the downtown businesses that are open that day to have some traffic from the visiting artists and others from out of town,” Bergland said.

The 45th Annual Charles City Artafest will be held at Central Park on Saturday, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. The event is a yearly art fair where attendees can purchase original artwork directly from artists and enjoy the sounds of talented musicians. Several regional artists and high school artists will exhibit, and there will be musical performances throughout the day, as well as wine tasting sponsored by Iowa wineries. Food will be available for sale, and children of all ages will have opportunities to experience interactive arts.

There will be 33 artists this year — 25 are repeats, who have been to Artafest before.

“One of the draws is, it’s an art fair, its not a craft fair,” Bergland said. “One thing you get when you have what is strictly an art fair — you get shoppers.”

Bergland mentioned that many similar events that allow everything might get a lot of people, but they aren’t necessarily there to buy art.

“People in Charles City who have been coming to Artafest for years know that if they’re shopping for art, they’ll find some,” she said.

A gallery of all the artists attending, which includes many samples of their artwork, is available at the Artafest website at artafestcharlescity.weebly.com. The website also includes a complete schedule of events, 2018 Artafest sponsors, a map that shows the locations of each artist’s booth, and much more information.

“When they turn in the application, we look at their work, and people come knowing it’s an art fair,” said Linda Tjaden, Artafest Committee member. “There’s a standard that we try to hold, and I think the people appreciate that.”

“We have judging, we have prizes — most artists want that — and it entices them to come back,” added Bergland.

The juror for Artafest 2018 will be Lynnette Clark. She will award prizes to exhibiting artists for first through third place and honorary mentions. The first place prize is $100, second $75, and third $50. Honorary mention prizes are $20.

“We have different entertainment, too, and I think a lot of people enjoy that,” said Tjaden. “There’s a variety of talented people.”

Live music will include Mariah Otto at 10 a.m., Gloria and Richard Wybourney at 11 a.m., Derek Sturtevant, Chris Cleveland and the Charles City High School Singers at noon, the Charles City Community Chamber Orchestra at 1 p.m. and Sam Crosser at 2 p.m.

Outreach Africa, a non-profit organization which supports agricultural, educational, medical, community development, and water quality projects in Tanzania, East Africa, will also be at Artafest. The Outreach Africa booth will feature a range of East African handicrafts (baskets, jewelry, wood, and stone carvings) and coffee from a farmers coop on the slopes of Mt. Kilimanjaro. Proceeds from sales support Outreach Africa programs in Tanzania.

The Art-a-Fest Committee food booth will open at 10 a.m. Pulled pork sandwiches, chips, pop, water, coffee and pie will be available. Planned children’s activities include walking animal balloons, face painting, spin art, rope making and bean bag toss.

“People just love getting out on a nice day and exploring all the different artists and vendors — there’s always somebody different,” Tjaden said.

The forecast is for dry weather Saturday, but if Artafest is a washout, it will be moved inside to Charles City Middle School. Bergland said that it will take quite a storm to push the event out of Central Park, however.

“It is a rain or shine event, so unless it’s terrible, we’ll be in the park,” Bergland said.

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