The heat may have been brutal over the weekend, but that didn’t keep crowds from packing the streets of Uptown Normal for the 36th annual Sugar Creek Arts Festival.
Doug Johnson, director of the McLean County Arts Center, estimated attendance to have been about 15,000, which is in line with previous years. “Interestingly, attendance does not dramatically impact artist sales,” he said. “People drive specifically to the festival to buy.”
No surprise there, considering the variety and quality of the works that were displayed by about 130 artists from as far as Florida. And even as they sweltered in tents lined up along Uptown Circle and adjacent streets, with small fans to provide some relief, the artists found good things to say about the event.
“I’ve been to some juried art fairs where you don’t even know who the jurors are, because they don’t interact with you,” said James Downey of Monticello’s Prairie Fire Glass Studio and Gallery. “Not here. The jurors interact, they take their time, even give you feedback.”
Downey (second from left in the post below) was awarded first place in the Fine Craft category.
Here are some of his pieces:
Chester Stogner of Carlyle won Best in Show for his stunning duck decoy woodwork:
A unique Sugar Creek category is the the D. Bill Memorial prize, which was named after a local artist known for making carvings out of electrical poles and is awarded in recognition of art made out of recycled materials. Rachel Haynes of Galesburg took this prize home.
Downs-based Mandy Roeing took second place in Fine Art for her photorealistic pastels:
Steven Martin of Charleston won second in fine craft. We’ll close this look at Sugar Creek 2019 with his whimsical woodwork, and we already look forward to the festival’s next edition!