On Saturday in downtown Woodstock, artists, musicians and other vendors will unite through a cohesive event with four distinctly separate aspects: two outdoor festivals, a community mosaic and the reopening of a downtown art gallery.
The Shenandoah Valley ARTfest in Court Square, which took a year off in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic, has returned for a second summer with plans to go bigger and bolder.
The festival two years ago brought about 1,500 attendees during the day, plus more during the evening street dance as people walked over from the neighboring Vintage Woodstock festival, said ARTfest Director Jane Beasley.
ARTfest will run from 2 to 8 p.m., and Vintage Woodstock, hosted by the town of Woodstock and also returning this year, starts at 6 p.m.
Together, ARTfest and Vintage Woodstock will create “one seamless event that brings the community together for viewing art, dancing in the street, participating in games for adults and children, as well as enjoying a variety of fare from wine, beer, and food trucks,” the Valley Educational Center for the Creative Arts explains at its website, vecca.org/artfest.html.
Vintage Woodstock, which lasts until 10 p.m., will offer dancing in the streets, games, food, a dunking booth, wine and beer. The band E3 will perform.
ARTfest is hosted by the Woodstock Enhancement Committee in partnership with VECCA, Shenandoah County Tourism, and the Shenandoah County Chamber of Commerce.
The festival “seeks to attract and showcase established and emerging artists alike from the Shenandoah Valley and beyond,” the website says.
Guests at the festival can view and purchase original artwork and connect with artists from all around the Shenandoah Valley.
“The artists that are showing have all been juried,” said VECCA member Diane Gould. “It’s not so much craft, it’s really [about the] artists."
New this year will be Carmine the painting dog, a 5-year-old Australian shepherd, who lives in Front Royal with his owner, Susan Brogan, and paints canvases to help local and international charities.
In addition to the more than 30 fine artists from Staunton to Luray who are planning to set up booths in front of the historic courthouse, participating organizations will unveil a community mosaic still under construction, inviting attendees to add to its creation.
"It’s a very community undertaking,” Gould said.
Additionally, VECCA will host a formal reopening of its downtown art gallery after it underwent reconstruction while closed during much of the pandemic.
"It's still a work-in-progress," Beasley said. "It's going to be beautiful."
VECCA President Deb Kibler said the gallery renovations were paid for by stimulus money the town received from the federal government during the pandemic.
"It came from the town's COVID funding," Kibler said. "We spent what we had so we could get reimbursed. ... It was great that we had the funding to do that."
She said VECCA requested $15,000 and was able to use $8,200 before the deadline. Half of the funds were used for the renovation and updating the point-of-sale system, and Jen Luyaas of Three Thirty 3 Designs in Woodstock painted the gallery.
In partnership with the Woodstock Public Art Program, VECCA is featuring a downtown mosaic of valley pastoral scenes designed by VECCA artists and paid for through a $1,500 grant from the Shenandoah County Community Foundation.
"[T]he town is our partner with this project," Beasley said.
The mosaic of three 4x8-foot panels is taking shape in the art gallery. It will be available for view on Saturday and for additions under a tent by the old courthouse. Once it's done, it will hang in the alleyway next to the Woodstock Cafe & Shoppes.
"It’s really a neat project, said Ellen Flugal, mosaic project director.
Small groups have been contributing to the mosaic over the last year, and she said she's looking forward to the greater community input during Saturday’s ARTfest.
"It’s pretty much like a puzzle," she said.