The 43rd annual Delaware Arts Festival features talent from 13 states.
May 14 and 15, 2016 downtown Delaware hosted artisans and crafters from as far away as Arizona and California showing off and selling their wares. In addition to Ohio, 12 others States were represented under a sea of tents that occupied Sandusky Street from William to Central and Winter Street from Sandusky to Franklin.
This two-day event featured 180 booths and is a labor of love by the governing board and the many volunteers who work throughout the year that made this celebration of the arts possible. “The quality and variety offered by the exhibitor’s just keeps getting better”, remarked a downtown shopkeeper last year. This is thanks in no small part to the huge outpouring of business and public support for this event.
The festival was founded in 1973, as a way of promoting the arts in Delaware County and as a showcase for downtown Delaware, Ohio. Connie Hoffman, one of the original organizers, remembers that Delaware had only four downtown restaurants when the festival began. Gail Russell, of Peachblow Pottery has been an exhibitor for 34 years and remembers when it was a one day event and the exhibitors were located on the sidewalk and blocked the storefronts.
Since the festival’s founding, many improvements have occurred and thousands of dollars have been turned back to the community in the form of scholarships to county high school seniors who are pursuing a degree in the visual arts. This year alone DAFA awarded $15,000 to scholarship winners – their work was shown at the Delaware Library main branch until April 30th.
DAFA also awarded several thousand dollars in grant money for visual art related equipment such as kilns, looms, potters wheels and cameras to local schools and continues to support various community groups to further their visual art programs.
The Delaware Library used their donation this year to buy adult coloring books.
Promoting downtown Delaware with its unique mixture of small businesses and Victorian architecture has also been a goal of the founders and the generations of subsequent volunteers who continue to nourish this yearly event. We are very proud of the way the festival has grown in quality and diversity in the past 43 years. As you are booth hopping we also invite you to look at the new shops and restaurants in the downtown area as well as the long established businesses and at the careful restoration that is an on-going effort in the historic downtown area.