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Artists ‘grateful’ for this year’s Art in the Park

Published: Aug. 2, 2020 at 5:36 PM CDT
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HASTINGS, Neb. (KSNB) - Organizers sculpted a slightly different Art in the Park this year, something many artists said they’re grateful for as dozens of shows are cancelled across the country.

About 40 vendors set up shop Sunday morning at Libbs Park for the favorite summer event. Dozens of people checked out work by local artists from paintings to jewelry.

Nancy Fairbanks, a clay artist and owner of Fairbanks Pottery Studio in Grand Island, had traditional pottery and whimsical pieces on display. Fairbanks said she’s participated in Hastings Art in the Park every year since it started.

“We’re so grateful that they’re doing this, because so many aren’t,” Fairbanks said. “My entire income is from my pottery and sculpture.”

The pandemic has taken a financial toll on Fairbanks with cancelled workshops and classes.

Fairbanks said it’s not practical to have six feet between attendees in her studio. They can’t host classes outside, because the wind would dry out the clay too quickly.

Art shows account for a significant chunk of Fairbank’s income. She normally does around 25 shows a year, but the pandemic put a plug on most of them this year.

“I do shows all over the Midwest and all of my shows are cancelled except for these three regional ones,” Fairbanks said. “So it’s been very challenging not to have the shows. Of course we miss the contact with the people and also not being able to show our work.”

The Adams County Convention & Visitors Bureau worked with the South Heartland District Health Department to create a safety plan for this year’s Art in the Park.

Tents were 10 feet apart instead of the usual three. Vendors stayed six feet away from the sidewalk.

Due to spacing requirements, the event had about 15 less vendors than last year.

Most of the artists wore masks, as did some attendees.

“Earlier on in March and April I was a little bit worried, but (the health department) said to just go ahead and continue planning it, because that far out we never know what’s going to happen,” said Anjanette Bonham, executive director of the Adams County Convention & Visitors Bureau. “It just all worked out. So it’s really wonderful.”

Fairbanks is staying positive through it all. She hopes to have her annual Christmas open house this year, which usually carries her through spring until shows start up again.

“There’s a lot of stress. You could be totally depressed and bummed, but it doesn’t do any good,” Fairbanks said. “So keep smiling. It’s okay. We’re still breathing and life is good.”

Copyright 2020 KSNB. All rights reserved.

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