Festival focuses on community

HUMBOLDT – Art was in the air at John Brown Park in Humboldt Saturday morning as artisans from across Iowa took part in the annual Humboldt Area Arts Festival.

Throughout the park, people who specialized in different forms of art had displays set up and were ready to talk to visitors about what they do.

Katrina West, of Fort Dodge, was participating in the festival for the first time.

“This will let people see what I do,” she said. “It’s not often that they get to see an artist do what they do.”

West spent the morning painting a picture of a tiger. She said her specialty is portraits.

“I can do any type of art, but I love portraits,” she said, adding that she can paint using a photograph as a reference, and had various examples set up around her display.

Jamie Johnston, of Goldfield, who said she has visited the festival in the past, decided to take part as a vendor for the first time this year.

“I just had a baby and I started making stuff for his room,” Johnston said. “I was encouraged to do it for other people, so I thought I’d give it a shot.”

She said her work mainly involves painting, and her favorite type is to take old items and repurpose them with the help of paint.

“It’s been pretty good so far,” Johnston said. “I’ve had quite a few people ask me about personalized art.”

Returning vendors included Tyler Sandstrom and his wife Laura, who own From Miry Clay Pottery in Dayton.

Tyler Sandstrom, who has been working with pottery for 13 years, said he’s been coming to the festival for the past five.

“It’s nice talking with people and enjoying all the other art,” he said.

Sandstrom added he likes using his skills to make products people are interested in.

“I’ve always liked to work with my hands and create art that you can use,” he said.

Jan Jacqua, of Humboldt, bought a ceramic bowl from Sandstrom as a birthday gift for her sister.

“I love this kind of thing,” Jacqua, who goes to the festival every year, said. “There are always interesting vendors. It’s always a fun event.”

Her friend, Lois Ann Johnson, agreed, adding they “like to support the arts council.”

In its eighth year, organizers decided to focus on community involvement as a way of having more people become interested in the festival.

Co-chair Marta Olson said that ended up leading to a successful festival.

“We’ve had great turnout,” Olson said. “We have a children’s group here this year, and we’re making bracelets for the kids.”

Also included in the festival for the first time was a tent where kids could play games and participate in different art-related activities.

“This is a very popular station,” Olson said about the new children’s events. “We have new things every year, and the kids get very creative.”

Tristyn Fuller, 10, of Humboldt, tried her hand at creativity by making a paper mache balloon. She said the prospect of having to clean up afterwards attracted her to the booth.

“It looks messy and I like to get messy,” she said.

Fuller said she was also looking forward to helping out other children later on in the day.

Though an early afternoon rain storm sent visitors scattering, co-chair Stacy Wempen said the overcast skies of the morning didn’t stop people from coming.

“We’ve had great turnout for artisans, and we’re very excited about the big crowd,” Wempen said.

Olson agreed.

“We’ve had more artisans this year and we have more kids,” Olson said. “I think the kids love it.”