Summer may be winding down, but that means the Bethany Beach Boardwalk Arts Festival is right around the corner. This Saturday, Sept. 12, nearly 120 artists, artisans and crafters will combine for the all-day event that is open to the public and will feature painting, photography, glasswork, jewelry, furniture, pottery, sculpture and more. Last year’s inclement weather saw the show’s first ever cancellation, but Bethany-Fenwick Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Andrew Cripps is hoping the anticipation has just been building under this weekend’s sunny forecast.
“Last year was the first time we ever had to cancel the show,” he said, “so we’re working with getting this weekend’s show ready,” said Cripps. “The artists have been very cooperative, and our advertisers have really been helping out. At the Chamber, we feel it’s important for the artists who participate to have a good experience.”
Painters, photographers and crafters alike turn to the Bethany-Fenwick Area Chamber festival to not only sell their work but to establish connections with customers and fellow artists. Local and visitor artists use the exposure to help promote their business and make lasting relationships.
“This has always been a popular event,” said Cripps. “It’s successful in terms of people coming out and the returning artists.”
Despite the wavering economy, Cripps said he holds high expectations for the event as particular favorites return to the boardwalk, along with new faces.
“The market has had its ups and downs,” Cripps noted, “but we’re hoping it won’t be different in terms of the arts festival’s success in the past. It is a unique economy we’re facing, but I believe the interest will still be here.”
This year, more than 110 artists will line the Bethany Beach Boardwalk and surrounding side roads with tables, awnings and displays of their works. Each artist is selected by a jury process, separate from the Chamber of Commerce, in which jury members analyze photos of the work and determine if the quality of work meets the standards of the festival.
“The great thing about all of the creativity you find at this show,” said Cripps, “is that it’s always changing. We get new perspectives each year and new artists participating, as well as the returning favorites. It keeps things fresh and new each year, which contributes to the added success.”
For Ronetta Krause, whose contemporary fine jewelry has been a hit at past shows, the Bethany Beach Boardwalk Arts Festival has been a great outlet for her trade.
“I have a very large following,” said the Pennsylvania-based jeweler. “The boardwalk show is very well-attended. I’ve been doing it for so many years that I’ve had to provide a special display for my jewelry. It’s definitely a lucrative little show. People enjoy coming to the beach for it, and the artists are able to establish those connections.”
Her husband, a glass-blower, also contributes to the jewelry.
“It’s a lot of fun and a great way to meet people,” Krause added.
Artists from the local scene benefit from the Boardwalk Arts Festival, as well, including painters and business partners Aubre Duncan and Laura Hickman, who have seen great success since opening The Gallery on Central Ave. in Ocean View a few years back.
Janna Schneider’s underwater photography from the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean spots has made its way into beach homes throughout the area thanks to shows like this one.
Whimsical and colorful paintings from acclaimed local artist John Donato have also benefited from the boardwalk art show.
The 31st Annual Bethany Beach Boardwalk Arts Festival will run from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. in downtown Bethany Beach and along the boardwalk, this Saturday, Sept. 12. Admission is free. For more information, including a full list of featured artisans and crafters, visit www.bethany-fenwick.org.