2009-12-31 / Front Page

Arts event broadens scope

BY NANCY ANGELLOTTI STAFF WRITER

LAPEER —- Lapeer Celebrates the Arts is gearing up for its fifth annual event coming this spring. This year the event will broaden its focus and get a change of scenery in the process.

"We're trying to bring in new things to the venue," says event co-chair, Mary-Sue Weber.

Organizers are planning to stage the event June 5-6 at The Chatfield School’s campus, tapping into the natural Prairies and Ponds environment.

"We're hoping to increase some of the other possibiities for the venue," says Weber. She notes that the area around the Willows Earth Education Center provides ample space for vendors and programs, and offers a more natural setting.

"We hope to have more avenues available for people to discover how art works into their lives and offer more enriching opportunities," says Weber.

The event will include the full scope of juried art that the event has established, presenting a variety of media.

"We try to keep it wellrounded," says Weber. "We jury it and make sure we have a number of different media." There were 45 vendors who participated in last year's celebration.

Taking advantage of the new setting, Weber anticipates visitors will see things like wildlife photography on the trails and vine crafts.

The outdoor amphitheatre adjacent to the Willows facility provides an apt spot for literary arts and other programs. Children’s creative crafts, music, wine and beer tasting also are part of the art celebration.

New to the event this year will be antiques and antique steam engines. Saturday night, "Brews, brats and Bob" will feature a performance by local piano legend, Bob Milne.

"It's going to be a fun event," says Weber.

The arts celebration is the second event planning to move away from the downtown area this year. Wild Lapeer is planning a similar change.

Weber said that the move to the new location should make things a little easier for set-up because no roads will need to be closed off. She said it would simplify organizational relationships, too. Both the city and the county are involved when the courthouse lawn is in use, and fees are imposed by the county.

DDA Director and Executive Director of Gallery 194 Carolyn McCarter said that even though the arts event is moving away from downtown, “We’ll continue to partner with Lapeer Celebrates the Arts.” She said that the downtown area has enjoyed hosting the event and will continue to be involved.

Jeanne McCorkle, president of Lapeer’s Downtown Business Association, said she was disappointed the event was relocating. Still, she said, “Downtown is a great set-up for the art festival. I think they’ll be back. Time will tell.”

Lapeer Celebrates the Arts is the main fundraiser of the Sunrise Kiwanis club. It directly supports the backpack program at Schickler and Turrill elementary schools. The program started three years ago at Schickler, after it was determined that some children were having problems in school simply because they arrived hungry at school on Mondays. The program expanded to Turrill this year.

"It's really turned out to be a wonderful program in a number of ways," says Weber.

With the backpack program, for every $1 the Sunrise Kiwanis puts into it, they get $14 worth of food from the Eastern Michigan Food Bank in Flint. They load up the backpacks with nutritious foods and send them home with the kids on Fridays. Weber says there’s no problem getting the children to return the empty backpacks because they know they're going to be filled again.

The program is run by volunteers, most of whom are parents of the students. Weber says it's really helped to develop good relationships between staff and parents, too.

Last year, Lapeer Celebrates the Arts raised enough money to feed 250 children every weekend.

Looking forward to this year’s expanded event, Weber said, "We're always looking for artists and entertainment." The show is juried, so artists will need to submit applications in the next few months.

For more information about Lapeer Celebrates the Arts or to apply to participate, check out www.sunrisekiwanis.net, www.lapeercelebratesthearts.or g or call 810-614-5312.

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