SANFORD ARTS AND VINE: Festival shaping up as a feast for the senses
Potters, sculptors, wood workers, painters, vinters, chefs and others from throughout the region and beyond will transform the Dennis A. Wicker Civic Center this weekend into a hub of creativity — which is expected to attract 5,000-6,000 people to peruse and purchase their wares.
The artisans are converging on the city for the Sanford Arts and Vine Festival, which will run from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday at the Dennis A. Wicker Civic Center, and Tom Snell, a member of the committee responsible for putting on the show, said he is pleased with how it is coming together.
"I think we've got 95 artists," said Snell. "We've got folks coming from as far away as Georgia to be in the show."
While the event draws visitors from across North Carolina, Georgia, Virginia and South Carolina, organizers say the festival is a community event at heart.
Kevin Brown and his wife, Sandy Cole, find the community aspect to be one of the event's biggest draws. Brown and Cole run North Cole Pottery, one of the many shops that will be featured in the festival.
Brown said, "I like the local feel of it. For Sandy and myself, it's our favorite show. It's a blast to see everybody from the bank teller to the bag checker to the insurance agent. You know everybody in town as they come through the doors. It's just a local, backyard show."
While potters constitute about 50 percent of the vendors, the festival is by no means pottery exclusive. Jewelry designers, wood workers, basket weavers and more will all be in attendance to showcase their work.
Ken Coldren, a local coppersmith and owner of Ken's Copper Creations, said he is looking forward to putting his work on display.
"I'm going to be displaying kinetic sculptures, wall pieces, abstract stuff," he said. "I do a lot of fish and natural wildlife stuff all out of copper."
The Sanford Chamber of Commerce oversees the festival, and Bob Joyce, its president, emphasized how important it is to the Sanford community.
"One of the great benefits I see is the fact that people go away from this event and tell others what a great event it was, how much they enjoyed it, how well organized it was," Joyce said. "It really enhances our reputation as a community."
Snell said he appreciates the tourism opportunities the festival presents, noting that it really helps to get the word out about all that Sanford has to offer.
"It may be an art and wine show that brings you to Sanford," he said. "But then you find out about these other activities going on in town, local restaurants, local artists. Our primary objective is to help promote Sanford."
One of Snell's favorite features of the show is that artists must be physically present to sell their work. He said he believes it is important that the art buyer make a connection with the artist.
"When people are buying art, a lot of their buying decision has to do with the artist themselves," he said. "They are seeing the character and personality of the artist in the work."
One such character is Rob Bartee, who runs the Shovelin' Barefoot Pottery shop from his home on Chris Cole Road. His nephews call him California Flash due to the Oriental style he instills in his pottery, a style he says is big in California but seldom seen on the East Coast.
"I never made much money in California," Bartee said. "But when I came to North Carolina, I started making money. This is a pottery state, and mine was different."
He has a range of pieces he will put on display. His favorite, and most complex, pieces will sell for between $150 and $189.
The Sanford Arts and Vine Festival replaced the defunct Sanford Pottery Festival, which had been running for 11 years before 2013, to highlight the 50 different wines that will be on display at the event from more than 12 wineries across North Carolina.
Patrons, those 21 and older, of course, can gain entrance to the wine tent for $10, which allows visitors to taste the many wines and beers available and to purchase their favorites.
Arts and Vine will also feature music from local bands, with performances running from open to close both days. According to Snell, the festival offers something for everyone.
He said, "Between the artists and musicians and the beer and wine folks, we have a whole lot of stuff for people to see."
General admission tickets can be purchased at the gate for $5, but guests can purchase tickets before the festival online at www.sanfordartsandvine.com for $4.