Thirtieth Folk Art Festival kicks off with a party

by Gayle Wilson

  • <p>CONTRIBUTED PHOTO</p><p>The five-foot wood carving by James Tracey, will be one of the pieces auctioned off at the 30th annual Nova Scotia Folk Art Festival.</p>
  • <p>CONTRIBUTED PHOTO</p><p>Carving by artist Robert Danielis, who moved from Ontario to Blue Rocks to be a part of the province&#8217;s folk art culture. Danielis will be one of the more than 50 artists exhibiting at the Nova Scotia Folk Art Festival in Lunenburg August 5.</p>
  • <p>CONTRIBUTED PHOTO</p><p>Herring Aids, by Robert Danielis.</p>
  • <p>CONTRIBUTED PHOTO</p><p>Wooden horse carving by Robert Danielis</p>

The Nova Scotia Folk Art Festival, which celebrates its 30th anniversary August 5, is kicking off a day earlier this year with a party the evening of August 4.

"A one-time only, new event, add-on," Sue Kelly, the festival's chair, told LighthouseNOW.

"We wouldn't normally have a two-day event, but at the request of the artists we went ahead with this plan to acknowledge the contribution of the volunteers over the 30 years," she said.

At the festival's 25th anniversary a similar event was held in honour of the artists.

The Folk Art Fling will be held at Lunenburg's United Church hall on Lincoln Street and feature the band Smoke 'n' Mirrors, a cash bar, refreshments and prizes.

It takes 40 or more volunteers to run the folk art festival, according to Kelly.

"It's all based on volunteers. There's no paid position."

On the day, volunteers are responsible for everything from the set-up and take-down, security and ticketing, and the cash section, since the artists themselves don't handle payments.

The popular annual event held at the War Memorial Arena on Lunenburg's Green Street attracts 1,200 to 1,400 people a year.

Among them are folk art collectors from all over Nova Scotia, Canada and the U.S., many of whom start lining up at 7 a.m. to be first through the doors, which open at noon.

"They have particular artists who they follow, and over the years different artists have achieved a reputation. And of course Nova Scotia itself enjoys a very strong reputation in North America for folk art" explains Kelly.

Some 1,500 art pieces are on sale at the events which typically bring in $90,000 to $100,000 a year.

Of that, the artists receive 78 per cent, with the remainder donated to the Lunenburg Heritage Foundation, less costs such as publicity and rental of the arena.

Kelly points out that collectors are advised to leave their purchases on display until after 1 p.m. Otherwise, sales are so brisk there would quickly be little left, she suggests.

"You can't afford it all, but you want to see it all."

There will be three new artists this year among the more than 50 artists that participate in the popular event - Erin Arsenault of Halifax, Adele Deering of Dartmouth and Tamara Whynott of Blockhouse.

As in previous years, the renowned fabric artist Felicia Knock of Riverport and wood carver Richard Crowe of Halifax have collaborated on another work of art.

According to Kelly, the pair don't reveal in advance what the artwork is, however Knock has advised her "'the piece is fabulous.'

"And it will have a price tag associated with it and I suspect it will be gone within the hour," added Kelly.

Meanwhile, this will be the third year at the festival for artist Robert Danielis of Blue Rocks.

Danielis, who is from Prince Edward County in Ontario, says he moved to Nova Scotia three years ago for its folk art culture and festival.

Some of his work is humorous, such as a carving of four popes coming out of a toaster called Pope Tarts, or the one of a woman with a small grey rabbit on her head called Mom Finds Her First Grey Hare.

Other of his pieces may be five or seven feet long and embody a sea theme, such as carvings of mermaids or whales.

Danielis told LighthouseNOW that in the 30 years or so he had been doing folk art there, he's only met one other folk artist, and that was one who stole his designs.

He now copyrights all of his pieces.

"I thought if I'm going to play at folk art, come and play with the big boys," he said.

The Nova Scotia Folk Art Fling runs from 7:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. August 4 and is open to the public as well. Admission is $20.

The Nova Scotia Folk Art Festival runs from noon to 4 p.m. August 5. Tickets are $5.00 each and children under five enter free.

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