By McCalee Cain
In the heat of a Sandpoint summer, community art attractions abound. Coordinated by the Pend Oreille Arts Council (POAC), the annual Arts and Crafts Fair coming up this weekend at the City Beach is a seasonal favorite.
POAC Arts Administrator Hannah Combs explained that the Arts and Crafts Fair actually wasn’t always under POAC and used to be more of a community festival.
“It featured events like a community square dance, a kissing booth, a three-legged bicycling race, and a man who split logs with his head,” Combs said. “Once POAC took the reins in 1978 and changed the name to the Arts and Crafts Fair, the focus was placed more on the artwork and performers.”
The Arts and Crafts Fair is no overnight success: every year, eight months of planning and nearly 100 volunteers help to ensure a seamless event. All of the effort pays off, however, as the fair helps to benefit the year-round operations and programming of POAC.
The group sponsors various arts education programs including the Kaleidoscope program that offers art classes in third- through fifth-grade classrooms in every Bonner County school, and the Ovations program, which affords students with opportunities to attend special performances and workshops with visiting performing artists. Both programs are completely free for students.
“The Arts and Crafts Fair proceeds help ensure that all of these programs are made possible,” Combs said.
Ronda Cutlip is a veteran vendor of fair and manager of Creations 4 You. Her booth offers a wide array of balsamic vinegars, olive oils, and other seasonings and sauces. “Even as a vendor, the Sandpoint fair it’s a very fun experience,” Cutlip said. “POAC brings in a nice variety of good artists, and work to have a wonderful layout that is beneficial for both the vendor and the public, They definitely do their best to put on a good event.”
New this year, a free shuttle service will run to and from City Beach to ease crowding in the parking lot. The bus is slated to loop from Third and Oak by the city lot and Church and Fifth by the POAC vendor parking lot to the beach, making stops every 30 minutes.