UPDATED: Artists ready to take to the boardwalk

Note: This event has been canceled due to Tropical Storm Hanna.

This Saturday, artists and crafters from across the region will come together for the 30th year of a summer tradition in Bethany. The Bethany Beach Boardwalk Arts Festival, presented by the Bethany-Fenwick Area Chamber of Commerce, has been a growing success over the past decades, coaxing talent throughout the area, as well as providing attendants with a memorable end-of-the-summer event. From watercolors, acrylics and oil paintings to wood and metal works, a host of impressive artists will grace the boardwalk and neighboring streets for the festival’s biggest year yet.

Coastal Point • File Photo: Steven Stannard of Bowman Consulting had many paintings available at the 2006 Bethany Boardwalk Arts Festival.Coastal Point • File Photo
Steven Stannard of Bowman Consulting had many paintings available at the 2006 Bethany Boardwalk Arts Festival.

The free-admission show will stretch the entire length of the Bethany Beach Boardwalk, with additional artists and booths set up on Second Street, Parkwood Street and Garfield Parkway, complete with live entertainment and a silent auction.

“We wanted to jazz it up this year,” said Chamber Sales, Events and Marketing Manager Deserie Lawrence, “make the artists and vendors on the side roads feel like they’re part of an exciting new element of the show, which they are.”

Roughly 30 more artists and crafters joined the event this year than last, attracted primarily through word of mouth.

“I can’t believe the buzz around this event,” Lawrence added. “That’s how we decided to go to the streets. We wanted to expand to accommodate the artists.”

Many newcomers to the show apply with hopes of expanding their base, increasing their sales and simply enjoying the company of countless others who share their same love and passion.

For local favorites Laura Hickman and Aubré Duncan, the event holds sentimental and personable value.

“It’s always nice to see people coming back each year, to see what you’re doing,” said Hickman, who has participated in the boardwalk show ever since its debut in 1978. “It’s really grown in the past few years, and since the side streets have been added, it’s not crowded like it used to be.”

Most of the shows she has worked stretch over several days or a weekend, and the one-day event along the boardwalk can provoke tiring preparation.

“For everyone involved,” she noted, “It’s a tough show, physically. It’s up to us to carry our work and set things up, and can make the morning very difficult.” The payoff, however, is always well-worth it. “The event is always a lot of fun, though.”

Hickman is known through the area for her paintings reflecting trips around the world, and at this weekend’s show, they won’t disappoint.

“I’m bringing a series of pastels from a trip to Greece,” she said. She is also introducing a whole new subject matter. “At my sister’s request, I began painting pictures of her dogs,” Hickman noted. “It’s like learning to draw all over again. It’s nothing like a landscape. I’m really enjoying it.”

Her colleague Duncan joined her a year ago with the opening of their joint project, Gallery on Central Avenue, in Ocean View. Duncan will once again be showing her collection of bright, bold beach scenes at this year’s boardwalk show.

“It’s a great show for locals like us,” she said. “Everyone knows it’s one of the last times for us to see our clients before the season ends. The fact that it’s outside, beside the ocean, makes it even more amazing. It has really built up over the years, but the Chamber and [participating artists] have managed to keep the quality of art right up there, and that’s really important to all of us.”

Duncan will be showing prints and pieces from her upcoming 2009 calendar. Though it won’t be available until later this fall, tour-goers will be able to get a sneak peek at her newest work and have a chance to take home some of her pieces.

The 30th Annual Bethany Beach Boardwalk Art Festival will be held on Saturday, Sept. 6, from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m., with plenty of masterpieces for the public to view and purchase.

“The quality of work that’s coming into this area is getting better and better,” Lawrence stated. “These artists are amazingly talented, and it’s really shocking to me how much the event has grown. One artist tells 10 of their friends, and they tell others. It spreads quickly.”

Although in her first year with the Chamber, Lawrence has been jumping right into the scene.

“These events run like a well-oiled machine,” said Lawrence, who was introduced as the Chamber’s events coordinator back in April. “Without them, I’d be in a lot of trouble, but it’s really been great since joining the Chamber. Everyone knows how these things work, and they have turned out wonderful.”

“From what I hear from the artists themselves,” she added, “this is one of the more preferred, larger shows to be a part of. Participants and guests plan their summers around this event. It should be a great time.”

For more information about the boardwalk art show, including participating artists and crafters, visit the Chamber’s Web site at www.bethany-fenwick.org or call (302) 539-2100.

Note: While the art festival traditionally has enjoyed great weather, Chamber representatives on Friday morning announced the cancellation of this Saturday's 2008 festival, due to the expected arrival of Tropical Storm Hanna in the area sometime Saturday evening. County emergency officials said Thursday that they expect 3 to 5 inches of rain and 40 mph winds from the storm.

An announcement from the Chamber read:

The forecasted weather calls for extreme weather conditions on Saturday with heavy rains and winds gusting up to 60 miles per hour. Since our festival takes place on the boardwalk and on the roads in downtown Bethany Beach we have three major safety concerns:

1) The storm surge from the ocean. If there is a strong storm surge, water could reach the boardwalk, making it extremely unsafe.
2) Flooding. Downtown Bethany Beach is prone to extreme flooding in even a mild rainstorm. Heavy rains will shut down most roads within the town.
3) Wind. With wind gusts expecting to reach up to 60 mph, there is a concern about flying debris.

We are deeply disappointed that bad weather is affecting the status of this great event.