The 11th annual City of the Hills Arts Festival opened Saturday morning under cloudy, cold skies.
The venue and the date changed from last year’s summer event, held on Main Street, to this year’s fall event, which coincided with the Grand and Glorious Garage Sale on Main Street. The festival also was moved to the grounds of Wilber Mansion and the adjacent Dietz Street parking lot.
“The weather isn’t helping,” said potter Allison Jones, who competed in the juried art show. “The people just aren’t coming in. This change in date was supposed to be a complement to the Grand and Glorious, but people coming here from the yard sale want a bargain. Here at the art festival, we have artisan prices.”
From its opening at 9 a.m. until about noon, a slow trickle of visitors trailed past the arts and crafts displayed in tents in the parking lot. Chairs sat empty in front of a stage where live bands played throughout the day. Several visitors remarked that the festival location cut down on available parking.
But as temperatures warmed to about 60 degrees by midday, things picked up.
“It has been a great show so far in sales and interest,” said Karin Bremer, who won Best in Crafts for her jewelry. “I have been doing this show for four or five years, and there is a good community of support for artists here. I guess the weather didn’t help earlier; people didn’t come out until later.”
In addition to Bremer’s award, Maryann Stow won Best in Fine Arts and Simone Mantellassi won Best in Show. The judges included recently retired Hartwick College art professor Phil Young, State University College at Oneonta painting and drawing professor Yolanda Sharpe and associate professor in foundations and printmaking at SUNY Oneonta Rhea Nowak.
“This has been a great show,” photographer Kevin Gray said. “People who are coming out are looking for art. The conversations have been good. People are interested in my art and my technique.”
In addition to fine arts, crafts and live music, the festival featured food vendors, a beer tent and children’s activities. Near the entrance to the Carriage House Art Studio, artist Doug Hallberg instructed children in the art of throwing pottery on a wheel.
“This is really a lot of fun,” said Jean Van Kingsley, from Sidney, whose 7-year-old daughter, Mara, worked with Hallberg on the wheel.
First-time participant Philippa Schrader, who makes paper jewelry, hailed City of the Hills as “a great festival.”
“I saw this festival and thought I’d come see – expand my circuit,” Schrader said. “I am surprised at how many people knew me here, and are familiar with my work.”
*Editor's note: This story was edited at 11:30 a.m. Sept. 17 to correct the spelling of Doug Hallberg's last name.