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Fairhope Arts & Craft Festival celebrates 71 years

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Fairhope will be having its annual Arts & Crafts Festival this weekend (March 17-19). This marks its 71st year, and it is free to the public. The festival will feature many local artists including Fairhope native Ricky Trione, who will be the featured artist this year. A full line up can be found at their website which includes artists ranging from glass blowers to wood workers to mixed media artists.

Marissa Thetford is a co-chairman of the Fairhope Arts & Craft Festival. She explained the importance of art to the Fairhope community. “We’ve got a lot of local artists. It’s always been kind of centered around our downtown area with a lot of galleries and art openings and we’ve got art walk every month," she said. "I think whether it’s music or writing or photography, painting, the community of Fairhope just really supports the arts and has for a long time, and I think that’s part of what makes it so special.”

Thetford explained there are more than 200 artists registered for the event in a variety of mediums from painting to photography, leathers and textiles, along with glass and ceramics.

“I think that people will be able to find something at a variety of price points, a variety of styles, and really be able to see something there for everybody," she said.

In addition to the artists, Thetford said there is a lot more to experience such as a children’s art tent where participants can build a bird house or have your face painted.

“We also have a live entertainment stage that will feature local bands. We will have some cool choirs, things like that which is always fun. We also have a food court which has a lot of local festival type of food, food trucks from around the area regionally, and also just the general downtown area in Fairhope is wonderful," she said. "There are more than 150 local shops, boutiques, art galleries and restaurants, cafes. There’s really something for everyone at the festival.”

Thetford said the festival has also been beneficial to the Fairhope community.

“It’s a real economic impact for us, for our local boutiques, restaurants, some of our local merchants say that they can pay the entire years rent based on the activity of volume they have just this one weekend in Fairhope.” She went on to say that it is not just the nearby residents attending the festival.

“I know it’s the busiest weekend of the year at the Fairhope airport. People come from all over the country year after year. They drive in from the panhandle of Florida, coastal Mississippi , northern Alabama. Each year we have roughly 250 to 300 thousand people which is a pretty big number of guests for our small town,” Thetford said.

The festival is expected to be crowded, so attendees are encouraged to take advantage of the shuttle service that runs from 10:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. each day. The cost is $5, and it picks up in two locations: Eastern Shorts Village Shopping Center (Big Lots) and Plantation Pointe Shopping Center (Piggly Wiggly). More information on the shuttle service can be foundhere.

Joe Moody is a senior news producer and host for Alabama Public Radio. Before joining the news team, he taught academic writing for several years nationally and internationally. Joe has a Master of Arts in foreign language education as well as a Master of Library and Information Studies. When he is not playing his tenor banjo, he enjoys collecting and listening to jazz records from the 1950s and 60s.
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