The Francisco's Farm Art Festival, which annually brings a slew of artists to the Midway College campus, begins Saturday, but the hype for the event began long ago.
For the fourth straight year, Francisco's Farm has found a spot on American Style Magazine's national list of top 10 art fairs and festivals, a list that includes two other Kentucky art fairs: Kentucky Crafted: The Market and the St. James Art Fair, both in Louisville.
Marci Christensen, coordinator of Francisco's Farm, expects as many as 10,000 visitors, nearly six times the population of Midway. Last year, attendance was an all-time high of 9,000, which even then was an increase of 1,000 over 2008. This is striking considering art festival attendance is reported to be down nationally.
Giving the audience the opportunity to meet the artists — this year, there will be 150 from 14 states — and buy art is the primary focus of the festival. But Christensen thinks the event's true power lies in its ability to bring the community together.
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"It is a wonderful event for the city of Midway," Christensen said. "We have a tremendous volunteer base this year. ... About 200 people have signed up to volunteer. The event really brings the community together."
Groups from across Central Kentucky participate in the festival. For instance, arts and education students from the University of Kentucky are guiding a children's art project all day Saturday; the Living Arts and Science Center in Lexington is guiding it Sunday.
A public art project, for adults, will be guided by citizensCREATE!, a Lexington non-profit organization. Participants will make sculptures for the Midway community garden and the new art courtyard in downtown Midway.
Both projects will be using reclaimed and recycled materials and found objects. "Bottle caps, ribbons and corks, etc.," Christensen said. "Things that we might throw away will end up in art."
Francisco's Gallery, an indoor exhibit sponsored by Woodford Reserve distillery, also will showcase environmentally friendly art in an exhibit called Art Goes Green.
This year, by request, live music will be going on all day, from two music stages. Highlighting the all-day concert is award- winning bluegrass musician Dale Ann Bradley, who will perform Saturday.