There are so many reasons to plan an inspiring visit to an arts and crafts festival this summer. Whether your gang is drawn to traditional crafts, interested in quirky science projects or includes a budding artist, there’s a unique fair out there to suit your tastes.
Displaying wares from area artisans and offering events and regional specialties for your enjoyment, these wonderfully offbeat festivals offer families experiences they won’t find elsewhere.
Enjoy Art On The Beach At The Alki Art Fair — West Seattle, Wash. July 27-28, 2019
Cultural delights plus a beautiful beach make for a fabulous combination, one you’ll find at the Alki Art Fair.
Each summer, artists, musicians, craftspeople and cooks converge on West Seattle’s stunning Alki Beach to serve up an extraordinary festival experience. It’s all aimed at promoting community and diversity.
For the little ones, the fair provides interactive activities, children’s music, magicians, jugglers and more. Food carts, performances and artists’ booths round out the fun, with sea breezes and wonderful views included free of charge.
Explore Appalachia At The Smithville Fiddlers’ Jamboree And Crafts Festival — Smithville, Tenn. July 5-6, 2019
Founded as a musical event in 1972, this festival has turned into a wide-ranging tribute to the rich cultural heritage of Appalachia.
With handmade crafts galore and regional food specialties — featuring plenty of Tennessee-style barbecue and other Southern-fried options — this great midsummer happening is a celebration everybody should experience at least once.
Whether you prefer to participate or just listen, you’ll be struck by the abundance of great music here. The schedule — which includes bluegrass concerts, “fiddle-offs” and Appalachian folk singing — also offers opportunities to take part in traditional dances, such as clogging and square dancing.
Ignite Your Interests At The Maker Faire — Kansas City, Mo. June 22-23, 2019
Got young inventors, artists or crafters in the family? This is the festival for you.
The Kansas City Maker Faire aims to educate and encourage “makers” of all stripes with diverse displays and events, including 3D Printer Demos and an ArtBot Petting Zoo.
Throughout the weekend event, engineers, scientists, artists and crafters will share and discuss their trades, hobbies, experiments and ideas. You can use the arts and craft materials and tools on hand to bring your most creative ideas to life.
Food trucks are on-site to power expanding minds.
Celebrate Creativity At The SoNo Arts Festival — Norwalk, Conn. August 3-4, 2019
This coastal city’s waterfront design district has ample food and art offerings year-round, but it really comes alive during the SoNo Arts Festival. Located along historic Washington Street, in South Norwalk’s booming SoNo neighborhood, the festival is under two hours from New York City by train or car. And however you get there, it’s worth a visit.
This street fair showcases affordable art, live music and lots of food options, including local seafood.
For families, there’s a free Children’s Art Playground and a Puppet Parade.
Participate In Artmaking At The Ann Arbor Street Art Fair — Ann Arbor, Mich. July 18-21, 2019
This eclectic downtown fair, part of a larger summer arts event in the great college town of Ann Arbor, offers over 200 artist booths. You’ll find musical entertainment and street performers, too. And during the festival, this foodie town shines with regional and international culinary specialties.
Each year, the fair keeps its street art tradition strong by commissioning a chalk art masterpiece. Attendees are encouraged to observe and engage with the artists as they create the piece.
Once they’ve watched the chalk artists at work, kids will get a kick out of watching other artisans making things in the fair’s Art Demo Zone. They can even try their hands at various arts and crafts in the family-friendly Art Activity Zone.
Get Enchanted By Craftsmanship At The Sawdust Arts Festival — Laguna Beach, Calif. June 28-September 1, 2019
Taking place just off California’s stunning coastal Route 1, this summer-long festival features hand-built stalls where local artists and craftspeople show off their wares. The colorful little booths — decked out with twinkling lights and filled with one-of-a-kind creations — stand amid an enchanting three-acre eucalyptus grove.
With a focus on arts education, the Sawdust Arts Festival makes sure that both children and adults feel welcome and have plenty to do. Kids will love the art booth. Adults will love wandering the sawdust-strewn paths for treasures for the home, such as hand-blown glass vases and pottery.
Inspired For The Future
You may walk away from these festivals with something lovely for your home — or you might find that you and your family are inspired to make your own works of art. Either way, it’s worth making your way to an art fair this summer for some creative family fun.
A former academic turned freelance writer and editor, Jennifer Brunton lives and works in Vermont.
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