This weekend will mark the 49th time art enthusiasts from across the region gather at Fallasburg Park for a fall arts festival.
“It was quite small when it started,” says Lorain Smalligan, executive director of LowellArts. At that time, it was run by the Fallasburg Historical Society, but LowellArts – then known as the Lowell Area Arts Council – joined forces with the society a few years later. Today, LowellArts is solely responsible for running the Fallasburg Fall Festival although the historic society still does host some events separately during the weekend.
It has turned into a major regional event drawing anywhere from 25,000-30,000 visitors each year, depending on the weather. The 2017 festival will include many old favorites from years’ past as well as new activities and vendors.
What Makes Fallasburg Fall Festival Different
There is no shortage of outdoor art festivals throughout West Michigan, but Smalligan says the Lowell event is different. “We call it an ‘arts with an s’ festival because we bring the music in,” she says. Music is a major part of the free event which spans Saturday and Sunday, September 16-17.
With promotion from music website Local Spins, the festival brings people in from all over to listen to artists representing a range of music genres. Preference is given to groups with a Lowell connection and most those performing can claim a local member. Plus, regional favorites such as the B-Side Growlers will be on-hand as well as JukeJoint Handmedowns who Smalligan predicts will be a hit with their Americana-styled music.
Beyond the music, Smalligan notes the Fallasburg Fall Festival is unique for its craft demonstrations held in the pavilion at Fallasburg Park. Sponsored by All Weather Seal, craft presentations include blacksmithing, origami, weaving, wood carving and fly tying among others. Visitors can see craftsmen and women in action and maybe even make their own item to take home.
The children’s area is sponsored by Meijer and overseen by Arts in Motion. There will be the perennial favorites of face painting and pumpkin decorating as well as a scarecrow puppet craft which is new for 2017. All activities in the children’s area are free, but donations will be accepted to support the work of Arts in Motion, which provides arts classes and programming for those with disabilities.
Community Fundraiser Featuring 100 Juried Vendors
Of course, the main draw for many people to the Fallasburg Fall Festival is the opportunity to peruse the work of diverse artisans. Smalligan says 100 vendors will be on-hand for this year’s event. Unlike some art festivals which allow anyone to set up a booth, vendors at the Fallasburg Fall Festival must apply for a booth and be approved. It’s a process that helps ensure the quality of the art featured during the weekend.
While the festival supports the work of LowellArts, it is also a major source of income for a number of local churches and organizations. “We look at the festival as being a community fundraiser,” Smalligan says. Food vendors are from Lowell and Alto and include churches, school clubs and other groups.
The Fallasburg Fall Festival is held at Fallasburg Park from 10am-5pm on Saturday, September 16 and Sunday, September 17. Admission is free. For more details, including a line-up of musical arts, visit the LowellArts website.