Sunday, May 18, 2014

Move back to college site pleases Francisco's 'farmers'

By Caleb Oakley and Darius Owens
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Telecommunications

Featuring more than 90 booths, ranging from jewelry to furniture, ceramics to paintings, and glass to photography, the Francisco’s Farm Art Festival had something for everyone yesterday and today.  

Francisco’s Farm featured 82 artists of many different types from all over the country.  The festival's 10th renewal saw it return to Midway College after a three-year stretch at Equus Run Vineyards.  It also was held five weeks earlier than last year, to avoid the heat. 

The changes appeared to resonate positively with festival-goers and artists alike. “Last year, people were more focused on finding shade than looking at the art,” one passerby said to an artist.

Though the temperature lingered in the 50s, it was a sunny day.  Those not perusing the art sat or sprawled on the college’s manicured lawns, enjoying the live acoustic music, eating refreshments from various food stands, and playing with dogs.

“I think the location may be better this year,” said Godwin Kou, left, an Atlanta watercolor painter making his second appearance at Francisco’s Farm.

J. Bird Cremeans, also a second-year attendee, echoed Kou’s sentiments. “I like the festival in this spot better,” said Cremeans, a photographer and artist from Huntington, W. Va.  “It’s more accessible for visitors. . . . The parking is better.”
(Photos by Caleb Oakley)

Cremeans, right, displayed black and white portraits mimicking those taken in the early 20th century, but with the heads of cute animals. “I was inspired by vintage photography of people who used to dress up their kittens,” she said.

Combs, a woodwork artist who has attended six of the past seven festivals, said, “I didn’t like doing this over at Equus. It was a big field, had too many bugs … it was just a hot mess.”

Sally Kinnaird, a festival volunteer since the festival's inception in 2004, said the biggest problem with being away from the college was the lack of community. “The worst part of Eqqus was that the town of Midway wasn’t connected,” she said. “The festival was losing community support.”

But she was grateful that the vineyard was available when the festival needed a new site after a disagreement with the college. “Thank goodness for Equus letting us continue over there … otherwise the festival would have died.”

Since Dr. John Marsden became president of the college a little over two years ago, one of his goals has been to work more closely with the town of Midway.

During setup Friday, a wind gust damaged the poles of an artist’s tent. Volunteers, including the president’s wife, Margaret Marsden, managed to get the tent to a nearby workshop and had the poles rebuilt within an hour.

“It was a very exciting day, said Melissa Oesch, an artist who makes leatherbound books. “It’s lucky that the mishap happened here as opposed to anywhere else or a random place. The volunteers were amazing.”

Combs said, “One of my favorite aspects are the people who volunteer. The atmosphere is really good here.”

Sara Hicks, the president of Midway Renaissance, the festival's main sponsor, said 1,347 cars parked for Saturday’s showing. Unlike previous years, there was no admittance fee to attend the festival.

The festival is juried, meaning the artists’ works were judged and approved by two experts to appear at the festival.

Lexington resident Christian Honican was impressed with the art he found at Francisco’s Farm this year.

“I’ve found things here you wouldn’t find anywhere else,” said Honican, lifting the bag of purchased ceramics in his hand.  “I’ll definitely come back next year.”

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