This Saturday proud parents 40 North and the Urbana Park District will introduce their latest co-creation: Crystal Lake Art Fair. For those of you who've secretly longed for a major art event that wasn't in April, your wish has been granted. The birth of Crystal Lake Art Fair is an auspicious one. Urbana has established itself as a true arts destination. Crystal Lake Park is looking better than ever. And the support you've all shown for things like art at the Urbana Farmer's Market, Friday Night Live/First Fridays, and Urbana's Downtown Get Down, show that you're ready for more. August is the last blast of summer fun before the business of fall begins, and from what I've seen Crystal Lake Art Fair promises to bring it. The list of featured artist dazzles with talent, diversity, and ingenuinity. So let's show up this Satuday to welcome this new addition into our community.  

Kelly White, 40 North Exective Director, and fierce fairy godmother of our local art scene, took a few minutes out of her crazy busy week of event prep and promotion to talk to me about the inspiration for this new yearly event, how it marks an important milestone for our community, and what we can expect to experience this Saturday. 

Smile Politely: How will Crystal Lake Art Fair different from our existing art events, particularly Boneyard Arts Festival? 

Kelly White: We are SO excited about this new art fair!  We have coordinated the Boneyard Arts Festival for 17 years and its unique vision makes it a truly special event where you not only discover and celebrate the creativity this town has to offer ;but you also get to explore this community, discover new venues, investigate artist studios, experience pop up shows that transform empty spaces, and enjoy ephemeral installations that disappear after a weekend. With Boneyard every spring, we have always hoped to also someday coordinate a more traditional art fair but our resources can only stretch so far.

SP: How did Crystal Lake Art Fair come about? Has it been in the works for awhile?

White: That’s where the partnership with the Urbana Park District is key. The UPD has wanted to do a juried art fair since Robin Hall was their director.

Crystal Lake Park is their oldest park is under some amazing re-development that we hope goes hand in hand with the growth of the fair over the next several years. Currently there are some great fairs like the Sleepy Creek Vineyards Art & Music Festival and the Sugar Creek Arts Festival in Normal, and lots of markets like Made Fest, Revelry and Mistletoe Market, as well as the amazing Craft League of CU Art Fair that has been going strong for 37 years, but not a traditional outdoor arts fair in Champaign-Urbana.

SP: Have any members of the local arts scene been involved in the planning process?  

White: Local artist Jill Miller, who runs Hooey Batiks in Urbana, has participated in art fairs all over the Midwest and has been lending her expertise and connections to our effort and we’re so lucky to have her advice and knowledge for this first event.

SP: What can you tell us about the scope of the event? 

White: We have over 30 artists participating at this year’s Art Fair which includes not only local artists but artists from Iowa, Missouri, Kentucky and other parts of Illinois.

SP: Will there be any interactive art experiences?

White: We will also have a kids’ make & take table area, food trucks, plus the School for Designing a Society will be running a free mosaics workshop from noon to 3 p.m. that day.

SP: What are you most excited about?

White: I am looking forward to the artists making new connections, inspiring each other, and hopefully selling lots of work!

SP: Anything else you want to share with our readers? Any logistics or helpful hints?

White: We will have accessible parking available (for those with license plates or hang tags) near the tent area. They’ll enter at the Broadway Avenue park entrance across from the Crystal View apartments. We’ll have overflow parking at the former Washington School, just across the street from the tents! The park road sits below Broadway Avenue, but we will have a welcome tent letting folks know where to enter the Art Fair site from Broadway. The mature trees throughout the park will make a shady, pleasant atmosphere for the Art Fair.

Featured artists include:

Eli Brown, Allison L. Norfleet Bruenger Collections (Jewelry and Mixed Media), 
Kim Caisse, Delcomyn Photography, Deana Rose Handmade JewelryEKAH, Fabrikate, Felt Inspired, Gathered Illusions, I Do Windows by Rettaglass, Hooey Batiks, J & S Turnings, Lisa Kesler, Ladysmith Jewelry, Marcia Menendez, Vince Merriman Art Creations, Amy MIllspaugh, Melissa Monroe, Sierra Murphy, Pipapo, Piper Pottery + Crafts, Lydia Puddicombe, The Quirky Quiltress, Red Ember Forge (Jewelry), Fraya Replinger, Same Street Studio, Howie Schein Pottery, Anthony Slichenmyer, Smiling Snake Shirt Company, Vinnie Sutherland, VASHOUNE, Richard Veselik, Liza Wynette

This will be a great opportunity to chat up artists you've long admired and those you're meeting for the first time. Bring money to spend, a curious and open mind, and a heart full of love for 40 North, the Urbana Park District, and our amazing local artists. This Saturday, get outside, enjoy a walk around Crystal Lake Park, and support your local arts community. I'll see you there. 

Crystal Lake Park Art Fair in Urbana
Saturday, August 3rd, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

See a more detailed list of featured artists here

Get a detailed event map, including parking and access details, here.

Kelly White has been killing it on 40 North's social media, so stay tuned for more Crystal Lake Arts Fair teasers on Facebook.

All photos from 40 North