By Jessica Isaacs | firstname.lastname@example.org
Summertime will be back in the High Country before you know it, and with it comes a new season of Blowing Rock’s popular Art in the Park series. A lot of great new things are in store this year for the program, which will kick off on Saturday, May 7.
First established 1962, Art in the Park has since been bringing a world of wonder and the best regional artists to the charming mountain village for guests and locals to enjoy.
So, what’s new?
Loni Miller, director of membership services for the Blowing Rock Chamber of Commerce, has taken the reigns as the new Art in the Park director. This Newland native and marketing pro brings with her a passion for art, a knack for helping small business owners and many great new ideas.
“I grew up watching my grandparents create ceramics and other crafts in their small shop in Newland and helping my family with the Christmas tree business,” Miller said. “After graduating from UNC Asheville, my life’s work has been to grow small businesses and to help artists with marketing.”
After 12 years of experience in the field, she’s channeling her expertise into growing the Art in the Park series, a longstanding cultural tradition in the High Country.
Among the changes to the program this year are a new venue, new things to try and new ways to enjoy a Saturday in Blowing Rock.
Formerly held in the parking deck of the American Legion building, the events will now take place right along Park Avenue in downtown Blowing Rock. This bigger, better venue will not only accommodate more guests, it will also allow attendants to park in the deck, alleviating some of the traffic.
Guests will now enjoy live music and the convenience of perusing displays right by the town’s variety of shopping and dining options. They can also hop right over to Memorial Park and unwind with free yoga sessions led by Art of Living Retreat Center.
With the chamber’s office now right in the heart of the Art in the Park festivities, its spacious lawn will act as a hub for activity and will feature tastings from Art of Oil and local wineries and breweries.
“We’re doing some fun things we’ve never done before. We’re located right in the middle of Park Avenue, so we have this great lawn in front of the chamber where we’ll have free tastings,” said Miller. “Our sponsor, Modern Toyota and Subaru of Boone, will be there, too. Visitors can walk halfway through the show and stop at our lawn to take a break, have a few tastings view some cars from Modern and then continue through the rest of the show.
“Because of the new location, we have more real estate to work with, so we can create more of a festival environment. We recognize that when someone comes to shop a show like this they often travel with the entire family, so we wanted to offer something for each member of the family so the shoppers can really take their time and enjoy it.”
With all of the new things in store for Art in the Park’s 54th annual season, the juried show will still focus on offering the best of the best in local, regional and nationally recognized artists from across the Southeast.
An assortment of pottery, art glass, wood, jewelry, clothing, paintings photography and more will be available at prices suitable for any budget.
“A large number of the artists are form this region, but we have some traveling from as far as Miami, Florida and Floyd, Virginia to come to the show this year,” Miller said. “It’s a juried show, so we take a lot of pride in the quality of the art and the variety that we bring thanks to our jury. Prices can range anywhere from $5 to $5,000 for a piece, so there really is something for everyone.”
The first event of the season will showcase ceramic artist Michael Hamlin-Smith as its featured vendor, and Miller said the town will be “alive with fun activities for the entire family” from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. that day.
“Arts and crafts have always been a crucial piece of the fabric of Appalachian culture. This area has a rich history in both tourism and craft,” she said. “This show is in its 54th year of meeting the needs of those two groups. The Blowing Rock Chamber is thrilled to continue supporting that great tradition.”
For more information, check out blowingrock.com/artinthepark.
Art in the Park 2016:
- May 7
- June 11
- June 16
- August 13
- September 10
- October 8