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This article by Pat Summers was published in U.S. 1 Newspaper on September 29, 1999. All rights reserved.

Fine Arts, Pleasant Music

It’s not your usual street festival, and it won’t be

like the recent string of summer fairs, feasts, and festivals. These,

you may have noticed, were marked by some or all of the following:

lights and loud music, junk food, rides, games of chance, live animals,

dead fish, tacky souvenirs, and — given the unremittingly hot

weather — glistening people, determined to enjoy themselves.

No, says Beth Slavish, one of the organizers of New Hope’s sixth annual

juried outdoor Arts and Crafts Festival, that takes place Saturday

and Sunday, October 2 and 3. It won’t be about any of that.

What it will be about are fine art and fine crafts on a cool and lovely

fall weekend in an artsy Bucks County village that could have invented

artsy towns. It will include "pleasant music" of guitar and

voice, as part of the ambiance. Rather than food vendors, visitors

are invited to try New Hope’s wide range of local fare, in an equally

varied mix of settings, both indoors and out.

While the "high quality art show" takes place throughout New

Hope, two streets will be closed to facilitate strolling arts aficionados

and the booths of some 170 artists and crafters from all over the

East Coast, with some from as far west as Colorado. North Main Street

— coming from Lambertville, that’s a right turn off Bridge Street

— is one; Mechanic Street, bisecting South Main, is the second.

In a deliberate mix-up of arts and crafts, the 10-foot tented booths

will be positioned to allow easy dipping into shops and snack venues

along the way. Some of the galleries in town will feature work by

their own artists, so the 170 artist count is just the beginning.

Slavish, also a spokesperson for New Hope’s Chamber of Commerce, is

one-third of "SBF Event Planners," who also orchestrate the

town’s annual "Arty" awards ceremony in September. She’s proud

of both the artist-crafter mix the festival attracts, and the five-judge

slide-jurying process that determines who will take part. Planning

for this year’s festival began the day after last year’s ended.

Slavish says the range of goods available is so wide, prices go from

$10 to "the thousands." And what a selection: Tiles based

on quilt patterns, stoneware and ceramics, painted furniture, block-printed

clothing, stained glass windows, lamps, and kaleidoscopes, hardwood

turnings for bowls and vases, and even handmade puppets. Such crafts

will co-exist with the more predictable fine art mediums of painting,

prints, sculpture, mixed media, and photography — including underwater

images — along with 18k gold and sterling jewelry.

Slavish advises against looking for a metered parking space, suggesting

instead that visitors use the many parking lots all over town, starting

with a capacious one behind the steam train station.

Shortly after the Revolutionary War, the two mills operated by Benjamin

Parry burned down and were rebuilt as "the New Hope Mills,"

offering "new hope" to the whole town. Long a commercial hub

because of its position between the Delaware River and the Delaware

Canal, New Hope faded industrially when railroads superseded the waterways

as lines of trade. Soon, though, New Hope’s vaunted landscapes, heralded

since the time of its original owner, William Penn, drew painters

and a host of other artists. By the 1920s, it was home to numerous

painters, craftspersons, and writers — an arts colony.

Today, the village offers visitors more than 200 art galleries, antique

shops, boutiques, and one-of-a-kind craft and specialty shops —

as well as myriad other activities and sites, historical to recreational.

The village, the county, and the tradition of artistry — these

appealing realities combine to create the setting of New Hope’s outdoor

arts and crafts festival.

— Pat Summers

Arts and Crafts Festival, New Hope Chamber of Commerce,

New Hope, 215-862-5880. Also Sunday, October 3. Free. Saturday,

October 2, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. , and Sunday, October 3, 11 a.m.

to 5 p.m.

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