Registration is open for the Rails End Art and Craft Festival

The arts and crafts festival is set to return to Head Lake Park this summer./FILE

Registration is open for the Rails End Art and Craft Festival

By Nick Bernard
Rails End Gallery and Arts Center curator Laurie Jones said a creative vibe is created when a group of creatives get together in a park for a few days. That theory is put to the test this summer as the arts and crafts festival returns to Head Lake Park from July 22-24.
This will be the first time the festival has been held since 2019, and while the gallery has been able to hold exhibitions during the pandemic, Jones sees the festival’s return as a reconnection to local culture.
“What we think is that a sense of belonging gives meaning to life, and that creativity and sharing creativity…are really important to people,” Jones said, describing the themes that the gallery has explored in past exhibitions during the pandemic. “What we do is we use the creative arts and engagement with them to…help support human connection.”

Jones said this year the gallery is on the lookout for innovative works, something that answers the question of “what’s new,” especially after the expected pandemic downtime.
“I imagine there are artists and artisans who have been able to use the time to turn inward and look at what they do and improve at what they do,” he said. she declared. “We are looking for work…that is innovative, that has a degree of excellence in its construction, or that shows that [it] took something to do.
Artists interested in participating can fill out a form, with all potential sellers being reviewed by the gallery’s selection committee.
There will be a show inside the gallery before the festival, where artists and artisans who are accepted into the festival will have the chance to exhibit their passionate projects.
“We’ll be inviting them to put something on the show that isn’t production work, it’s something they want to share with the audience,” Jones explained. “It’s going to be something unusual, for them, or maybe [something] they really like to do… Everyone has other things on their minds.

Jones said she faces a number of logistical challenges that need to be addressed head-on, including any developments that may arise from the rapidly evolving COVID situation.
“We never thought there would be a fourth wave,” she said. “Who knows what will happen? And really, once people get back down to Haliburton…everything will change again.
She is also concerned for many of her volunteers and ensuring that they are not at risk of contracting COVID-19. As a result, Jones says one of the things she’s looking into is a contactless method of collecting donations.

Susan Watson Ellis, a Haliburton jeweler and owner of Paradigm Designs, has attended the festival for over 20 years. She says she is delighted to see his return.
“The show’s organizers are working hard to make it a special and welcoming event for vendors and customers alike,” said Watson Ellis in describing why the festival is important to her. “I think it’s extremely important as a local art studio to have the visibility and new client contacts that this fair offers.”
Jones offered a number of tips and ideas on what the festival is looking for, especially for anyone who may be new or hesitant to submit their art.
“If detailing is your thing, you want to draw… or [bring] pay attention to the quality of your stitching or the quality of your technique…give us a close-up,” she explained, saying that applicants should send in at least six photos of their art. “Images are important. You don’t have a second chance. I don’t see the actual object.

Jones said the art is competitive and she’s not afraid to let people know when they need more practice.
“It’s what allows people to get better and better,” she said. “Make everyone go back to the studio.”
Artist submissions are open until March 18.
Entries and information about the arts and crafts festival are available on the Rails End Gallery and Arts Center website at railsendgallery.com/haliburton-art-and-craft.

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