Hands-on artwork

HUMBOLDT – It’s a festival where everyone gets the chance to do art.

The ninth annual Humboldt Arts Festival will be held 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at John Brown Park. Visitors to the free event browse Iowa artisans, enjoy live music and dance routines, and take part in art activities for both children and adults.

“The arts festival is to draw anybody in,” said Nancy Huddleson, director of the Humboldt Area Arts Council. “That was what it really started as, as exposure, and hands-on. To actually get to try the art themselves, get to take something home they created and can be happy about.”

Adults can take part in a community project, featuring the 1920s image of the Sumner Bridge, which spanned the Des Moines River just outside the Humboldt Art Center.

“Everybody who comes can contribute to this panel,” Huddleson said.

The finished piece will be displayed in the Fourth of July parade, exhibited in the fall and then auctioned at the Art Encore on Oct. 4.

For kids, there will be more than a dozen free projects exploring different art forms, including wood sculpture, rain sticks, and clay sculpting.

Part of the art is finding creative projects to use whatever is donated to them, Huddleson said.

“This will be stained glass, using paint,” she said of some transparent plastic sheets. “And it is throwoffs from a project of the AEA, that they donated to us. This was cut off agenda binder-type things for the schools, and they just get thrown away.”

Another kids project will be taking old VHS tape boxes, and making art boxes out of them. Kids will get crayons, paper and other supplies to put inside, and decorate the outside with paints or decoupage.

Jennifer Boswell is chair of the children’s projects.

“She has a huge responsibility getting all those organized,” Huddleson said.

The founders of the arts community always intended for it to be a free art experience, Huddleson said.

Sometimes, “workshops are too expensive,” she said. “They keep people from trying things they may really have a passion for. This way, they get to try a little bit of everything, and just enjoy it.

“There’s just a wealth of fun to have – with all the arts – to actually try it.”

The literary arts will be represented as well.

“We have a bilingual author coming up from Des Moines,” she said. “She will read to the children.”

Artisans from around Iowa will display and sell their work as well, in varied forms like oil and watercolor painting, hot glasswork, silks, woodcarving, drawings, gourds, metal work, jewelry, and literary.

It takes hundreds of volunteers to put on the event, Huddleson said.

“That’s where our strength is, in the number of our volunteers who step up to man all the tables,” she said.