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Artists, organizers excited as Lawrence’s Fall Arts & Crafts Festival is set to return this weekend

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Audrey Taylor has been busy creating new art to sell at the 41st annual Fall Arts and Crafts Festival, which will take place this weekend. 

Taylor creates yard art from car parts and recycled and reclaimed metal. She uses a plasma cutter to carve items out by hand: butterflies, dragonflies, ladybugs, bumblebees. She also transforms barrel lids into “one-of-a-kind” pieces of art, by sketching, cutting and painting them, and she’s excited to once again be able to sell her work at the festival, which is set for 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 11 at South Park. 

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The festival has been on hiatus since 2020. In years past, 150 to 200 exhibitors displayed their wares. This year, there will be 80 artists, four food vendors and several live bands playing throughout the day. 

The 41st annual Fall Arts and Crafts Festival is set for 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 11 at South Park in Lawrence.

Phyllis Lee sells her crafts at various festivals regionally and is looking forward to the revival of this one. She’d attended it for 10 years or more before COVID-19 shut it down, selling items such as sweaters, aprons, quilts, hats and scarves. 

Lee feels pride when she sees someone enjoy her handmade products. She recalled a young girl lighting up with joy after buying a superhero apron. 

“That child was grinning from ear to ear, and she put it on, and she kept it on. I saw her walk down the street — she still had her apron on.”

Duane Peterson, special events supervisor for the Lawrence Parks and Recreation Department, which organizes the event, is closely monitoring Sunday’s forecast. He said it will probably rain overnight, but the rain should be out in the early morning. 

“The weather itself is going to be in the 70s and so it should be a great day once we get this rain out of here early in the morning,” Peterson said. 

In years past, people have traveled from all over the country to attend this festival, Peterson said. 

“It’s not just local,” he said. “It’s known throughout the Midwest. You know … we bring people in as far out west (as) California, and as far south as New Mexico.” 

Because the event has been on pause for two years, Peterson wants to make sure people know the festival is back and running. 

“We’re very excited about getting it started back up, especially since it’s been one of … the Lawrence traditions for years,” he said. “It’s been … a great event, and then COVID hit us. So now we’re excited about reopening it up and getting it established again as one of the traditional events that Lawrence has to offer for our arts and crafts community.” 

The music itinerary at the William Kelly Bandstand:

Noon – The Lawrence City Band
1 p.m. – The Beer Bellies
2 p.m. – Kim and the Quake
3 p.m. – Paul Gray
4 p.m. – Vaughn Cowden

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Chansi Long (she/her), a contributor to The Lawrence Times, has a bachelor of science in mass media from Baker University and a master’s in nonfiction writing from the University of Iowa. She’s been published in the Washington Post, River Teeth and Brevity. She was honored to be named Kansas Writer of the Year by the Winfield Arts and Humanities Council in 2016 for her essay “Lovesick.”

Read more of her work for the Times here.

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