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Arts Fest to draw big crowds July 1

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MORRISTOWN — Experience the arts and celebrate the arrival of summer at the sixth annual Mare’s Wares Arts Fest on Monday.

From noon to 8 p.m., Mare’s Wares Pottery’s, 3938 State Highway 37, backyard will be transformed into an outdoor gallery and entertainment venue hosting music, food, wineries, artisans and demonstrators.

The festival gets bigger each year. In the past, it has attracted upwards of 2,000 people. The event was first founded in 2008, when it had 12 vendors. This year, more than 75 artists will be displaying and selling their art in a wide range of mediums including pottery, jewelry, quilts, wine, woodworks and even psychic arts.

“Artisans and participants are by invitation only now,” organizer Karan M. Cross said. “We try to get a little bit of everything, so we do not overload in each category.”

The festival will feature usual favorites — pottery, jewelry and woodworking — and unique treasures such as handcrafted leather and flutes and homemade organic dog treats.

The arts festival is about celebrating the arts and creativity in all its various forms — be it food, wine, bread making, wool spinning or growing organic produce, Ms. Cross said.

“We began with the idea of promoting local art, and it snowballed from there,” said Mary Ann Evans, owner of Mare’s Wares. “We found that there was so much hunger for diverse artwork.”

Demonstrations will include pottery wheel work, raku firing, rug hooking with Helen Condon, chair caning with Bill Balling, and Tracy Cox of Inlay Design Studio and Custom Guitars will be demonstrating with custom string instrument design and inlay.

This year, children’s activities and entertainment will include Home Again Farm’s alpacas, a selection of wild creatures from Fragile Planet Wildlife Foundation, pony rides, face painting and puppet shows throughout the day.

But no matter how big the event becomes, it will always be about the artists.

One of the driving forces behind setting up the artisan part of the show with higher end, handcrafted products was the artisan group, Artisans of the River Valley. The group formed more than six years ago hoping for a better local and public venue for their artwork beyond a craft fair.

As it was when it first began, the arts fest is free of charge to the public.

“Mare’s Wares is all about sharing creativity and promoting everybody,” Ms. Evans said. “If you’ve got a creative talent, let us help you get it out there. We’re networkers in the art community. ... This is a great event for all people who like pottery, artwork, music, good food, books and entertainment.”

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