By Kim Guenther, President, Claudius Crozet Park Board
With a beautiful LOVEworks sculpture and 115 different colored pop-up tents stretching across the Crozet Park festival grounds and into the upper ballfield, this year’s May Arts & Crafts Festival may look a bit different than past festivals, but it will have all of the excitement and variety we’ve come to love.
The pandemic upended plans of all stripes and Crozet Park was not spared these disruptions. Last year we cancelled all of the four festivals hosted in the park: the May and October Crozet Arts & Crafts Festivals, the Crozet Independence Day Celebration, and the Crozet Winter Brews Festival. Every outdoor sporting events at the park was cancelled. And although we quickly and successfully transitioned the A&C Festivals to a virtual format, thanks to the creativity and ingenuity of Ewa Harr, the park’s festivals director, it wasn’t the same. 2020 was a year of marked by missing and missing out on time with friends and family. We missed the sights, smells, and sounds of the festivals. Now with Covid restrictions across the state starting to ease, it’s time to safely bring back the festivals (all of them) to the park.
On May 8 and 9, the park will host its 41st bi-annual arts & crafts festival, one of the longest running festivals in Virginia. The festivals began in 1980 and continue to this day with all proceeds benefitting community-owned and operated Claudius Crozet Park. With Covid restrictions, this year’s festival will look different but will continue to feature more than 120 jury-selected artists, craft demonstrations, live music, children’s activities, food, and Virginia wine and beer. Lines and wait times may be a bit longer due to social distancing requirements. However, we expect this year’s festival to be similar to past festivals, just a bit more spread out to use more of the park’s green spaces. Safety for artists, attendees, volunteers, and sponsors will be the highest priority. Here’s what to expect:
Outdoor Venue: We will use more of the outdoor festival grounds and parking areas that allow for us to give lots of space to social distance for our artists, exhibitors, vendors, volunteers and our guests.
Rolling Admissions: We will be limiting the number of guests admitted to the festival at a given time to comply with county and state allowances.
Masks Required: We will require face coverings at all times, except when eating or drinking while seated at the picnic tables. Face coverings must be worn to cover both your nose and mouth.
Social Distance Markers: We will require all parties to social distance at the festival. Anywhere people may line-up, we will have signs and markers to guide you to for appropriate distancing.
Interactive Exhibits: signage will be posted to discourage congregating and encourage use of hand sanitizer.
Go with the Flow: Attendees will follow a pre-determined flow pattern to prevent bottlenecks and pinch points.
Booth Spacing: We will skip the very large “circus” tent this year. Instead, artists will each have their own individual pop-up tent with the exception of those spaced out under the pavilions. Artist booth spaces, tents, food vendors, and picnic tables will all be spaced 10-feet apart.
Restroom Hygiene: Portable and on-site restrooms will be cleaned and sanitized frequently and hand sanitizer will be available in each restroom and as well as at numerous stations throughout the festival grounds.
Pre-sale Tickets: Online ticket sales prior to the event are strongly encouraged. A QR code will be available at the event for hands-off ticket sales as well. Tickets may be purchased at: www.crozetfestival.com.
Largely Cash-less: We’ll aim to use pre-payment and local online payment transactions, like Square, for wine, beer, and food purchases to avoid contact.
In addition to all these many changes, a site operations team has been hired to set-up the festival on Friday and break it all down Sunday late afternoon. This was done to cut back on the number of volunteers needed for the festival. However, volunteers are still needed and can sign-up by going to www.crozetfestival.com
LOVEworks and VA Tourism
In addition to all the changes taking place at this year’s May festival, both Arts & Crafts Festivals and the Winter Brews Fest will benefit from a newly awarded $10,000 grant from the Virginia Tourism Corporation’s (VTC) Recovery Marketing Leverage Program (RMLP). The grant is designed to help local and regional tourism entities attract more visitors by leveraging limited local marketing dollars through a local match of the state grants funds.
The VTC grant funds will be used to promote the unique experiences of fine art, craft beer, and the beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountains that surround Crozet.
“We are so excited to receive this grant from VTC and to invite art enthusiasts, beer and wine connoisseurs, and history and nature lovers to explore all that Crozet has to offer. Our Crozet Arts and Crafts Festivals happen annually in May and October—both beautiful months to visit Crozet and experience amazing art, breathtaking views, and locally crafted brews!” said Harr.
As part of this grant funding, the park’s board of directors commissioned a LOVEworks sculpture by local artist Chicho Lorenzo, who developed LOVEworks sculptures at IX Park and the McGuffy Art Center. The sculpture will be in place in time for the May festival and then become a permanent fixture at the park as a part of the Virginia LOVEworks tourism map. It will be a perfect spot for festival selfies! More information can be found at: www.virginia.org/LOVE.
The LOVEworks have become special places, not only for local communities, but also for travelers. People are drawn to the LOVE letters and often choose them as backdrops for special occasions such as engagements, family photos, memorable road trips and more.
The LOVEworks program is a great way for local communities to leverage the brand strength of Virginia is for Lovers to promote their own messages and unique destinations.
Waynesboro created a river-themed LOVEwork in a local park to strengthen their city’s brand as an ideal hub for outdoor recreation. Similarly, Harrisonburg created their own LOVEwork to provide an interactive representation of their community strengths, diverse ethnic backgrounds, rich agriculture, outdoor recreation, and a vibrant arts scene.