For the eighth consecutive year, parents and children from the peninsula will take over Fort Worden State Park to decorate boats, spin, paint, weave, sculpt and sew.
Northwinds Arts Alliance and the Port Townsend Arts Commission have joined forces to present the Children's Festival of Art on March 9. Local artists and craftspeople set up booths, demonstrate their crafts and allow the visitors to try them out themselves in the hands-on art activity stations.
Approximately 30 stations provide children and teenagers, as well as adults, the opportunity to experiment with everything from beading and mosaic-making to origami and metal sculpture.
"We have doll quilting that we're doing this year - and that's new this year," said Christopher Overman, who is the festival co-director along with Sidonie Wilson.
According to Overman, a popular activity station is the wooden boat-making booth, which he works on all year.
"I go around throughout the year and collect scraps and pieces of two-by-fours and two-by-sixes from building scraps and I give them to a wood artist who shapes them into a boat hull shape," Overman said. "The kids can decorate them at the festival. They have access to little pieces of wood, nails, glue ... and they make their own creations."
The children can launch their boats in small pools.
"They find great joy in that," Overman said.
The past year's festival brought 800 people through the doors, Overman said, and the count was fairly evenly divided between children and adults. He estimated that it took about 100 volunteers to pull off the event.
"It's really a community thing," he said.
Overman stressed that the Festival of Art is not a carnival and the activities are set up to build children's interests in art.
"These activities are very specific ... they're meant to introduce kids to some things that may spark their interest to continue," he said. "There may be 200 kids in the building at one time but they're all focused on what they are doing. It really has a good educational experience content to it."
He added that while the event is by donation and no one's going to be turned away if they cannot pay, the event does count on donations.
"We receive a grant from the Port Townsend Arts Commission and another private person provides a small grant, but our goal is to keep it self-sustaining," he said. "Donations are what keep it going."
Donation money goes for high-quality art supplies for the children's use, including
fairly high-grade paper and quality brushes.
The Children's Festival of Art runs from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday, March 9, at Fort Worden State Park, Building 204, in Port Townsend. Admission is by donation. For more information, call 360-385-0655.
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