Arts and Crafts take over Coupeville this weekend
— Created August 11, 2021 by Kathy Reed
By Kathy Reed
It may look a little different, but the Coupeville Arts and Crafts Festival is happening this weekend, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. As always, the festival features high quality items from artists, craftspeople and makers from Whidbey Island and around the country.
This volunteer-run event has been a staple in Coupeville for more than 50 years, and after a hiatus last year because of the pandemic, people are happy to see the festival come back.
“Disappointed is probably the best word to describe the feelings of many Coupeville Festival Association volunteers [when the festival was canceled last year],” said longtime volunteer Grace Tiffany. “Understanding also fits. We all realized the reasons, plus we understood the potential dangers of COVID-19 infections.”
If disappointment was the word for last year’s canceled event, anticipation is probably the best word to describe the festival this year. Safety is probably another word high on the list for all those putting the festival together this year and is also why things will look a bit different to vendors and those attending.
“A great deal of care has been put into social distancing options per Washington State and Island County regulations regarding COVID-19,” Tiffany explained. “This means approximately one-third fewer artists than past years. It also means that booth spaces are more distant from one another, offering more room to social distance yourself from others but still get plenty of shopping done.”
Even though there are fewer booths this year, there are still well over 100 to browse through, not to mention the local businesses who will be ready and waiting for people to peruse the many unique items being offered.
One returning artist is Bryan Parks, from Sandy, Ore. He said he loves that the festival is located on a beautiful island in a picturesque town. He said people respond to his unique, environmentally-friendly pieces.
“I make functional art out of recycled bamboo chopsticks,” said Parks. “The recycled aspect appeals to many people. For others it is the beauty and functionality that they are attracted to.
“My most popular product is a line of folding baskets,” he continued. “They are great as a fruit bowl, a bread basket or for a variety of other uses. The best thing is that they can be folded up flat for easy storage. I will have those baskets with me in a variety of sizes and colors.”
Putting together a list of vendors that will keep shoppers interested is a long, careful process overseen by the artisan booth committee of the Coupeville Festival Association, the group which puts on the Arts and Crafts Festival. The six-member committee works to bring together a great selection of quality artists and vendors for each festival, according to Tiffany.
“Our jobs begin in January with initial communications to returning artists and setting up the online application form for that year,” she explained. “We work through step-by-step activities throughout each month until the close of festival weekend. We strive to bring an approximate balance of one-third long time, returning artists (more than 5 years); one-third returning artists with less than 5 years; and one-third new artists – carefully balanced between categories. Through the years, preferences of the buying public change. This team evaluates preferences of the current buying public to select quality, juried art selections within preferred categories. I have been a part of this exceptional team since 2008.”
It is a well-established fact the Coupeville Arts and Crafts Festival simply would not happen without a large team of volunteers. Organizers say the success of the CFA and the annual festival are because of both loyal volunteers like Tiffany, who has been with the organization since 2000, as well as the new faces who volunteer each year. It says a lot about the spirit of the Coupeville community.
“There is a great deal of pride among the Coupeville festival volunteers when they are able to see the results of their hard work within the community where they live,” said Tiffany. “ALL non-operational proceeds from each Coupeville festival are given back to the Coupeville community in the form of project grants and scholarships. When driving by local Coupeville schools, on downtown Coupeville streets, by the library, museum, even Admiralty Head Lighthouse, the results of many project grants are visible and rewarding. Volunteers realize that their hard work and dedication does enhance the community where they live.”
There is no live music scheduled for this year’s festival, but there will be a food court. Offerings include wood-fired pizza, Thai spring rolls, hamburgers, hotdogs, corn dogs, barbecue, lumpia and grilled corn, to name a few. The food court will be located south of the main festival area, just up the hill by the Coupeville Library and the parking lot. Food is available Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Tiffany said she feels “fulfilled and proud to be associated with an awesome group of the best volunteers,” and she is looking forward to sharing this event with the Whidbey community.
“The quality of confirmed 2021 artists’ work is exceptional,” she said. “Many of our customers’ favorites are here. You can see a sampling of what will be here this year by checking out our 2021 artists on the website www.coupevillefestival.com/2021-artists-vendors/. Remember, this is only a sampling of each artist’s products. A visit to the Coupeville Arts and Crafts Festival to see all the selections and visit with your favorite artist is the best way to be involved.”
And it’s not too late to lend a hand, either. Anyone who is interested in volunteering this year or in the future can check out the volunteer opportunities at the website as well. (coupevillefestival.com)
In the meantime, Tiffany is anticipating a great event.
“[My favorite part of the festival is] Saturday morning, walking through the set up booths, listening to customer comments, artist/customer interactions and realizing that our months of preparations have yielded success,” she said.