EDITORIAL: 2014 Arts & Vine Festival should be on this weekend’s calendar

Apr. 30, 2014 @ 05:00 AM

Got plans this weekend?

They better involve the Sanford Arts & Vine Festival.

If you don’t go, you’ll miss out: more than 80 artists will be showing off phenomenal pottery and other types of craftsmanship, and it’ll all be for sale. More than a dozen wineries and breweries will be offering samples in the wine tent, and you can buy what you like there, too. And there will be live music to boot, plus great food from local restaurants — and the vibrant energy of thousands of folks having a grand time.

Many of your friends will be there, and with the current weather forecast calling for only scattered clouds and springtime highs in the low 70s, what could possibly be your excuse?

(That’s not silence you’re hearing; it’s the quiet whisper of reason compelling you to attend.)

The Arts & Vine Festival is something of a successor to the Sanford Pottery Festival. When the SPF closed up shop in 2012, the Arts & Vine folks — spearheaded by Tom Snell and his wife Renee (herself a skilled jewelry maker) — wanted to keep the festival tradition alive and kicking in Lee County. They picked the SPF’s “standing” date (always the weekend prior to Mother’s Day) and went to work. The Sanford Area Chamber of Commerce and plenty of caring and committed volunteers came on board, plus lots of sponsorship from local business and industry (including, we’re pleased to say, The Herald) stepped up to support the cause.

Last year’s inaugural Arts & Vine Festival was deemed successful, but as with any event which relies on local support, it can’t continue, thrive and grow unless it gets that very thing — strong local support.

It takes years and years for an event like a signature festival to develop what some folks call “legs” or “laurels,” for an event to become a brand unto itself and develop the kind of loyalty that makes large-scale marketing unnecessary. The Arts & Vine Festival isn’t there yet, but it’s important to understand: the Sanford Pottery Festival proved our community could host a great event and draw crowds of thousands from all around North Carolina and from outside the state. The credibility of that event, combined with the wonderful execution of last year’s first Arts & Vine Festival, is a great foundation on which to build something special. It works together to make the weekend a showcase for vendors from all over N.C. and three other states and for the wineries and breweries. But unless we support it with traffic, it won’t ever reach the “eternal” status of the best-known festivals in North Carolina featuring barbecue, dogwoods or music.

“Traffic” means local folks going, shopping, mingling, buying.

So as you’re thinking about this weekend, think ahead to the first weekend of May of 2015. What might you be doing then?

If you’re thinking about putting off the Arts & Vines festival until next year, you better think again. Future festivals won’t be possible unless current festivals thrive. Go to the Dennis A. Wicker Civic Center (from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday), pay the admission price ($4 online prior to the show; $5 at the gate, plus extra for the wine tent access) and make your presence felt.

For more information, see the ads in this newspaper or check out the Festival at www.sanfordartsandvines.com.