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‘In awe of their work’: Fairhope Arts & Crafts Pageant celebrates 70th anniversary

Alabama is regarded for its quirky festivals revolving all around peanuts, pepper jelly, UFOs, coon dogs, rattlesnakes, and extra.

But each calendar year, given that 1953, the Fairhope Arts & Crafts Pageant delivers a hodgepodge of the wacky and imaginative to its downtown streets.


This year’s competition was no different, illustrated by Ryan Boase who additional his twist of blending early 20th century report players with modern-day-working day cell phones.

“It started with a broken trumpet in my garage,” said Boase, of Greenville, South Carolina, attending his to start with Fairhope Arts & Crafts Festival. “I located one thing that worked and once I observed the response to it, I was like ‘What else can I try?’ So, I started out executing much more and additional issues.”

Boase’s booth highlighted 100-yr-old phonographs and gramophones mounted on to handmade picket bases and turned into cell cellular phone speakers.

“This is my very first yr coming right here and it’s been excellent,” Boase explained.

Huge crowds showed up to Fairhope’s downtown streets on Saturday to peruse the 234 booths that ended up set up alongside the streets. It was the initially time the competition returned to its pre-COVID-19 early spring time frame, after owning been canceled due to the pandemic in 2020 and delayed to late April previous yr. The competition continues into Sunday, and will be open up from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

It can draw 100,000 or more persons to the metropolis and is typically ranked in the Top rated 10 of the most very well-attended festivals in Alabama.

“The Arts & Crafts Competition is a single of the state’s cultural anchor situations,” reported Lee Sentell, director of the Alabama Tourism Office. “As Fairhope has developed in the past many a long time, so has the competition ongoing to attract collectors from throughout the country. Going the day again to earlier in the calendar than in modern years puts Fairhope in the spotlight as folks make their spring journey options.”

Vicky Cook dinner, the competition chairwoman, explained out of the a lot more than 200 artists taking part this 12 months, about 25-30 were competition newcomers.

Between them was Valerie Lamott of Columbia, South Carolina, who shown her homemade jewelry that is influenced from her frequent visits to condition parks.

“This has been excellent, and it’s been packed all working day,” explained Lamott, who transitioned about eight many years ago from a job in electrical engineering to getting a complete-time artist attending festivals across the region each 12 months.

Really attention-grabbing artwork by Ryan Boase from South Carolina at the Fairhope Arts & Crafts Competition. Cell phone earth satisfies the gramophone. He clarifies:

— John Sharp (@JohnSharp99) March 19, 2022

Some of the artists are mainstays, these as Tim and Erica Peters of Wintertime Haven, Florida. The few have been an inventive crew operating in porcelain considering that 1984. Their do the job showcased at this year’s festival contains in depth hand carved bowls that characteristic landscape designs and trees.

They have been attending the Fairhope Arts & Crafts Pageant given that 2000, and have been the winners of this year’s prestigious “Best in Show” award.

“We do 30 displays a year from Coconut Grove (in close proximity to Miami) to Seattle … we protect the full country,” stated Tim Peters. “I are inclined to do perfectly listed here. Folks right here react perfectly to my operate. I definitely like this present.”

The festival also puts an annual stamp on Fairhope’s popularity as an arts and crafts mecca in coastal Alabama. Bookstores, artwork galleries and craft shops are section of Fairhope’s downtown enterprise district, and the city has a effectively-honed name for creativeness.

“Growing up here all around artists and men and women performing issues all the time, it built me want to do a thing palms on frequently,” said Cook, the competition chairwoman. “I always liked coming to the Arts and Crafts Pageant. It would energize me and give me clean concepts.”

Some site visitors still left amazed with the do the job they saw.

“I’m in awe of their get the job done,” claimed Amanda Taylor, 44, of Birmingham, who was going to the festival with buddies Stephanie McGhee, 44, of Cellular and Lindsey Barlow, 41, of Fairhope.

For Fairhope inhabitants Douglas and Tabatha Wilhelm, the festival marked a return to normalcy. The pair, together with their 4-calendar year-old daughter, Kennedy, spent Saturday strolling all around the streets and examining out the artists. They ordered a custom made-produced Easter basket and a front door welcome indicator through their stop by to downtown Fairhope.

“It’s a small little bit of everything,” explained Douglas Willhelm, 37. “It’s fantastic.”