Artists, public come together at Artafest

By James Grob,

For the 45th straight year, Charles City Artafest was a success.

The 2018 version of the event was held at Central Park on Saturday, and more than 30 artists exhibited, and there were musical performances throughout the day.

Artafest is a yearly art fair where attendees can purchase original artwork directly from artists and enjoy the sounds of talented musicians. Food was available for sale, and children of all ages had opportunities to experience interactive arts, including walking animal balloons, face painting, spin art, rope making and bean bag toss.

Ann Ott Schneckloth, a local jewelry artist and painter who has attended Artafest more than 20 times, got a closer-than-usual look at all the artists at Artafest Saturday.

“I’ve had a lot of fun,” she said. “I hosted the judge, and she and I had to walk around, and since then I have purchased a whole bunch of stuff here.”

The juror for Artafest 2018 was Lynnette Clark, who awarded prizes to exhibiting artists for first through third place and honorary mentions. The first place prize was $100, second $75, and third $50. Honorary mention prizes are $20.

First prize at Artafest this year went to painter David Prehm, while second prize was awarded to wood worker Dennis Petersen and third prize went to clay artist James Kern. Honorary Mention recipients included Janeice Bergland, Autumn Rozario Hall, Dan and Mickey Johnson, Peggy Novak and Megan Roethler.

Live music included Harrison Scheckler Mariah Otto, Gloria and Richard Wybourney, Derek Sturtevant, Chris Cleveland and the Charles City High School Singers, the Charles City Community Chamber Orchestra and Sam Crosser.

Cedar Rapids artist Russ Fagle is a seasoned veteran of art fairs in his area of the state, but this was his first time at Artafest.

“It’s a very friendly community and a fantastic space, with lots of shade,” Fagle said. “The other vendors have been very friendly, the public has been wonderful. People have been inquisitive and I’ve been thanked by numerous people for the fact that I made the journey up here from Cedar Rapids.”

Fagle said that he would definitely consider coming back next year, and said that while he was here, he was introduced to some other area opportunities for artists that interested him.

“My work’s been well-received and I’m very appreciative of that,” he said. “I had a great time.”

Fagle said the Artafest bucks — vouchers awarded by sponsors to the general public to help them make purchases from the artists — was a good idea that he thought worked well. He said it helped some individuals who can sometimes feel uncomfortable spending their hard-earned money on artwork take that step.

“It lowers the barrier, and makes it easier for someone from the general public to make a purchase,” he said. “The community supporting the general public to come and make purchases like that, I think is a fantastic way to bring the art community and the general public together in a win-win scenario.”

Schneckloth said that while she did purchase art from several of the other vendors, she was also pleased with public response to her own artwork.

“I was surprised at all the interest, so it was a good thing,” she said. “And is was just a beautiful day.”

Schneckloth said she would hope for more of the same for Artafest next year.