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Have an Artsy Spring Vacation

Planning your next vacation? Head to New England. The Paradise City Arts Festival, in Northampton, Massachusetts, will occur in Spring, 2012.

The festival take place twice per year. The most recent occurred this past Columbus Day weekend.

October 8th was a beautiful fall day in Massachusetts. It was the peak of fall foliage season. Artists, collectors, and curious New Englanders headed to the Three County Fairground in Northampton – awarded one of “The Top 25 Best Small City Art Destinations in North America” by AmericanSyle Magazine. A line of over one hundred eager visitors weaved throughout the parking lot.

Ranked 3rd among art and craft fairs nationwide by AmericanStyle Magazine, the Paradise City Arts Festival attracted approximately 15,000 people this fall. It takes place every Columbus Day weekend and Memorial Day weekend in Northampton, MA. This October, 275 artists displayed their works in a variety of mediums.

In addition, there were live musicians, a silent art auction, a dining tent, and children’s activities such as a musical scavenger hunt, drawing explorations, and workshops offered by the Eric Carle Museum.

Visitors strolled through the tents, peeking their heads in and out of booths. According to the festival’s website, thirty percent of festival goers were from the area while 70% traveled from other New England states and beyond. Lois Pighetti, a local, was at the festival for her third year. “My favorite booths are the ones with jewelry and clothing,” she said. She had brought along her sister from Georgia to enjoy in the experience.

The Paradise City organizers have a database of over 15,000 artists. In order to be in the show, they were required to apply and send in digital images of their work. The founding directors then reviewed them. Only 275 out of 1,000 applicants with sophisticated, cutting-edge portfolios were accepted. Exhibitors paid between $875 and $1175, depending on the size of the booth.

James Kitchen was one of these artists. A sculptor for 15 years, he was eager to explain his interesting and eclectic pieces. “Humor is the best weapon in life,” Kitchen commented. He incorporated recycled tools and scrap metal in each of his sculptures. Everything was local, taken from the area.

Geoffrey and Linda Post, artists themselves, founded the festival in 1995. “We wanted to create a vibrant marketplace for the exhibition and sales of fine craft, paintings, and sculpture,” Linda said.

The name of the arts festival is taken from Northampton’s nickname, “Paradise City.” Jenny Lind, an opera singer from the mid 1800’s, performed several times in Northampton during her tours. She even spent her honeymoon in the city. Sitting by Smith College’s Paradise Pond she said to her husband, “This must be the Paradise of America!” The Posts found this to be a suiting name for their future arts festivals. Linda Post explained, “The ‘city’ part is significant, in that we build what we sometimes call a mythical city of art; it lasts three days and then disappears.”

The fair was originally held only in October for leaf peepers. Post commented, however, “[We] soon discovered that people were making the Paradise City Arts Festival their primary destination, and the foliage was subsidiary.” Three years later, the success of the event prompted a second spring fair. Attendance is equally impressive regardless of the season.

The Paradise City Arts Festival took place October 8-10. The fair will be held again in Northampton May 26-28. Prices for admittance are $12 for adults, $10 for seniors (65+), $8 for students, and children under the age of 12 are free. A three-day pass can be purchased for $15. The show hours are Saturday and Sunday, 10am to 6pm, and Monday 10 am to 4pm.

By Katie Siemianowski

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The Hub Bub is a collection of articles, videos, audio, photo slideshows, interactive maps and other media produced by students enrolled in journalism courses at Loyola University Chicago's School of Communication. For more about the School of Communication, our award winning faculty, and our state of the art facilities located in the heart of Chicago, visit our website.