Somebody must be living right, because the weather for the major Dogwood Arts events have been spectacular. This weekend saw the Market Square Art Fair take over the central portion of downtown and bring in thousands of people each of the three days. Being an ordinary human being, with all the limitations and various obligations that entails, I could not see it all, but I did catch glimpses, mostly Saturday afternoon.
Urban Woman and I started around 1:00 PM with lunch at the French Market. The line to order took about fifteen minutes and the wait for the food to be brought to the table was an hour. I heard from several people in the line that this was the best choice they had found anywhere. Food Trucks and other food vendors as well as restaurants were swamped. We didn’t mind, however, as we scored a sidewalk table and drank a cup of their excellent Italian coffee while we people watched. There’s not a much better way to spend an afternoon and the coolness in the air made it easy to pretend I was in Paris, which is always my fantasy when I eat at the French Market.
The booths were wonderful, though we weren’t really in buying mode this time around. The Festival organizers have made a point to move away from crafts and into art and it shows. Kim Henry told me that the approximately seventy vendors were selected from one hundred twenty applicants and the quality of those interested increases each year.
The range also impressed me, though pottery seemed to figure pretty prominently. Sculptures, jewelry, woodworking, leather goods, painting and glasswork was displayed at every turn. The booths formed two rows on Krutch Park and four rows on Market Square, along with others just off those areas. The Tootsie Truck, the Sweet and Savory Truck, Dale’s Fried Pies, Pop Culture and VG’s Bakery joined the typical festival mix of burgers, hot dogs and funnel cakes. Honestly, besides maybe bacon, is there a better smell than funnel cake?
Down the street at the Daylight Building, Just Ripe was packed and people mingled with authors and listened to music through the afternoon at Union Avenue Books. The Tree and Vine and Casual Pint seemed packed all day and Nothing Too Fancy did big business on their t-shirt sale. As for one of our newer businesses, the Peanut Shop remained too packed for walking every time I checked.
Plants were offered for sale along Union Avenue and Urban Woman couldn’t resist buying a few to plant in the city. Just around the corner I believe we had far more space provided than before for people to sit and eat. I thought this was a big improvement. Now we just need actual restrooms for our visitors to downtown. How hard would it be to build permanent public restrooms in a beautiful building on Krutch Park?
Entertainment filled both the Market Square Stage as well as a designated area on Union Avenue about the mid point of the fair and a pretty wide range of artists displayed their talents. I heard Jazz, String Music, poetry and saw modern dance – and I was only around for one afternoon. Fun crafts and other activities awaited all the children running about at the far end of Krutch Park and they seemed to enjoy themselves tremendously as they emerged with their art work and faces painted.
We made special plans to enjoy the Culinary Arts Stage and to catch as many of the scheduled events there as possible and we were not disappointed we did so. I think I could listen to Chef Joseph Lowery from Avanti Savoia all day long. Really, anyone who is passionate about what they do and can translate the passion well enough to those of us less informed so that we can experience the passion, even if briefly, is a gifted person, indeed. I also managed to hear Chef Drew McDonald of the Plaid Apron.
I enjoy the wine pairings and always love to hear wine discussed and Robert Mondavi wine-maker Rich Arnold brought his incredible depth of knowledge to the event. Blackstone Brewery out of Nashville did a beer pairing with the twice-cooked steak prepared by Chef Drew McDonald. My regular readers could guess what I did during that session – bought another glass of wine. I’m sure the beer is lovely for those who enjoy it.
I hope you were able to catch some of these events or others downtown this weekend. It was the second weekend in a row that parking took some thought, but it was well worth any trouble to get there. As the last hour wound down, sprinkles started falling on the city. After these two glorious weekends filled with sunshine, let it rain.