By Ashley Mackin | SDUN Editor
Community members, artists, vendors and performers came together to celebrate North Park as an art district at the 16th annual North Park Festival of the Arts, held Sunday, May 20.
North Park Main Street organized the event, and the nonprofit’s executive director Angela Landsberg said between 30,000 and 35,000 people attended the free event.
Calling it a “true success,” Landsberg said, “I had quite a few conversations with the art vendors who said that this is by far one of the best-run arts festivals that they’ve attended and they all asked to come back next year.”
One of those vendors, the North Park Craft Mafia, had a table with supplies for participants to make fans. “We’ve had a ton of people come by. Our craft lounge has been really busy,” said Craft Mafia member Robin Priest, adding the group would probably host a fan-building table next year as well. “We’ll probably do that again next year since it’s going so well.”
Priest said the North Park community appreciates the arts, and festivals like this one show it. “I think [the community is] really supportive of the arts and we have a lot of people, a lot of galleries and a lot of interest in the arts here,” she said.
Priest also said Craft Mafia hosts events year round that are open to the public. At these events, participants are encouraged to bring whatever craft they are working on and socialize. “Our goal is to keep San Diego crafty,” she said.
Landsberg said the festival is great for smaller groups like Craft Mafia because, “[It] gives them a venue with access to people from all over the county and lets them bring their small crafting business to a larger venue.”
Showcasing his award-winning paintings at the festival was David Weimers. Visiting from La Jolla, Weimers said the feedback from participants was positive.
“They’ve been very responsive. I’m very happy with the comments I’ve been receiving,” he said.
Weimers said he wanted to show in North Park to gain exposure, and thought the festival would be a good place to do so.
Displaying his series “The Ladies Who Lunch,” Weimer said one of the paintings, “Burger Queen,” was recently awarded first prize by the San Diego Portrait Society. He will be traveling to Philadelphia to represent San Diego in a competition hosted by the National Portrait Society.
Commenting on the varied types of art at the festival, Landsberg said what her organization considers art includes music and craft beer, as well. This year the festival featured a Craft Beer Block with over 20 San Diego breweries represented.
Landsberg said there were no incidences of people over-drinking, adding “Some people have said the Craft Beer Block gets better each year and the brewers all asked to come back next year.”
Landsberg said the performance aspect of the festival was also improved this year, by the well-run music and dance stages.
“We had volunteers for each stage … and it’s a big commitment,” Landsberg said. “The artists who come out to perform do not make a lot of money but they are all very professional.”
Overall, Landsberg said the success of the festival was a group effort.
“We had a lot of people who helped put this together,” she said, “and without the help of the committee and the artists and business owners in North Park, this wouldn’t happen, which is why it’s a true community event.”