Druid City Arts Festival shows of Tuscaloosa's local cultureBy Chandler Padgett | 04/09/2016 1:13am
Photo courtesy of Rachel Daniel.
This Saturday, the usually quaint grassy lawn of Government Plaza will be covered with colorful art of all mediums and styles; the air will feature an aromatic concoction of food and live music.
The Druid City Art Festival, seven years running, will take place downtown on April 9th from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Coordinated by Tuscaloosa Tourism and Sports, the event is a chance for people all around the Tuscaloosa area to experience the local arts culture of the city.
“Our mission is to bring people to Tuscaloosa to spend money on hotels and spend money locally. We took it over with the hopes that it would grow to be a regional arts festival and also we felt like it was important to the community to keep it going,” said Brandt LaPish, director of communications and public relations for Tuscaloosa tourism and sports. “We took it over as part of our piece of how we give back to the community, but we also had intentions to grow it.”
The event, which is partnering with Tour de Tuscaloosa and Habitat for Humanity’s tailgate cook-off, is by no means one-dimensional.
“We have over 90 local and regional artists that will be selling original artwork. We’ll have live music, storytelling, a children’s festival including blow-ups, and face painting, and they can build a hands-on item. We have different sponsors you can get to know that will be there as well,” LaPish said.
The festival will feature art of all types, from sculpture and painting to jewelry and writing. Elizabeth Mize, owner and artist of Craft E., has come to DCAF for three years now and is based in Tuscaloosa. Mize, who started solely making items for friends and family, has seen her business grow over the years.
“I make a variety of different things, from jewelry to painting. The most popular thing and what I usually sell out of, especially at DCAF, is my state of Alabama barware. I have a process where I do glass etching by hand that’s permanent and dishwasher safe,” Mize said. “I do it on a variety of different types of barware from wineglasses to pint glasses, beer mugs, anything that’s glass really.”
Rachel Daniel is another artist who will be selling work at DCAF—it is her third year also. Her business, The Upcycled Muse, offers a different approach to art.
“I make goods that are made of, some people call recycled materials, items that would probably be discarded, like the kind of stuff you find at thrift stores. Things like records, to old credit cards and gift cards, buttons, guitar strings, kind of whatever I can find,” Daniel said.
Daniel, like Mize, has made art for most of her life and turned her passion into a business within the last few years. She makes a variety of pieces.
“I do make jewelry, but I make clocks, coasters, I guess what you call home goods. I even make guitar picks, it just depends on whatever I’m in the mood for and whatever I’m able to find,” Daniel said.
Mize has a store on Etsy, but she also goes to shows in person, which she sees value in.
“Online is great because I can sell stuff all over the world, but one on one sales are really fun because I can explain the process, meet the people that are getting my items, and it has a personality to it,” Mize said.
DCAF brings in people from throughout the region, including artists.
“I just really love the event. It’s one of our favorite shows that we go to. It’s fun to go around and see all the artists. There’s such a plethora of different items that are there from artists all over the state,” Mize said.
New this year to the festival is an entertainment district. In effect only on the 9th, it will allow visitors to drink alcohol in public.
“The hours for the district will be 9am to 8pm. Patrons will be able to go into participating establishments and buy an alcoholic drink if they’re of age, and if they would like to walk outside it has to be in the designated entertainment district,” LaPish said.
Ultimately, Mize believes wholeheartedly in the festival.
“Great food and drinks and music, the bands are always good. It’s a free event, so it’s really great to come out, bring a blanket, watch the bands. It’s a fun event with so much to offer,” Mize said.