Druid City Arts Fest returns for 5th year

Druid City Arts Fest returns for 5th year

A combination of locally based arts, music, crafts and foods will take over Governor’s Park as the Druid City Arts Festival returns for its fifth year Saturday.

DCAF was founded in 2010 when two interns for The University of Alabama’s Creative Campus program had the idea to start a music and arts festival. They were inspired by their friends who had no way of presenting their various art forms – paintings, music, crafts and photography – to the public. They collaborated and created DCAF, and 1,000 people attended the first festival. Attendance has since grown to more than 7,000.

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For the first three years, Creative Campus put together the festival independently. Last year, it partnered with the Tuscaloosa Tourism & Sports Commission, and Creative Campus has since given the commission full control over the festival.

“We sponsor the festival because we think it’s important to offer a free event for people to engage and be inspired by the arts and the humanities,” Brandt Garrison, public relations manager for TTSC, said.

The mission statement for DCAF states that its goal is “to provide a quality arts and music festival which strengthens Tuscaloosa as a destination market for the arts circuit, while also educating, engaging and inspiring both youth and adults about the arts and humanities within the Tuscaloosa community.”

Creative Campus still sponsors the event, and Rachel Ahrnsen, Creative Campus intern and senior majoring in journalism, said the main purpose of DCAF is to celebrate regional arts and music in Tuscaloosa.

“We have student artists selling their art for the first time, professional artists are able to make a living through festivals like this, and the bands are so excited to share their music with everyone and the fans are out dancing,” Ahrnsen said.

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Emily Sarvis-Hill, owner of Emulzz’z Treasures, first set up shop at DCAF because she said she wanted to branch out to a different kind of festival.

“I wanted to learn more about collaborating with local artists and marketing and displaying my work,” Sarvis-Hill said. “DCAF seemed to be a good fit for my introduction to being a continuing vendor at festivals.”

Sarvis-Hill said she continues to return to DCAF because of the gap it bridges between the artists and the community.

“DCAF is a fantastic festival with even more potential right under our noses, and you have to take advantage of that,” Sarvis-Hill said. “I think it’s important to support local artists and culture so you can help your community reach its potential.”

Lee Anne Jones works with polymer clay to create different beaded arts. She participated in DCAF for the first time last year, and said she is returning for the 5th Annual DCAF because of the festival’s affordability.

“The expense of most shows prohibit me from going,” Jones said. “I can do this show. It’s inexpensive, close to home and the venue is outstanding. For those of us who do art as a fun part of our lives, this is the best show. It helps me make a little extra money, buy more supplies and do more art.”

More than 65 artists will sell everything from Italian charms and quilts to hair accessories, skull art, soap, mosaic paintings and photographs. Local musicians will also be present throughout the day to provide entertainment. Past musicians who have played the festival have come from all over the Southeast, including The Revivalist from New Orleans La., Matthew Mayfield from Birmingham and local Tuscaloosa favorites such as CBDB, Looksy and The Doctors and The Lawyers.

This year, the festival will host Tuscaloosa musicians Chase Evan and Jimi Squeezebox & The Cajun Gods of Zydeco and Birmingham bands The Old Paints, Smoke & Arrows, Sweet Tea Trio and John & Jacob, who will headline the festival.

In addition to art and music, there will also be a kid’s section with moon walks and a musical petting zoo where kids can try out different instruments, Garrison said.

“It brings the community together,” Ahrnsen said. “There aren’t very many events that can do that on such a large scale, and DCAF is one of those events.”

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