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In the Winner’s Circle

March 2012 | BY | Issue 79, Spring 2012

Ann Arbor Street Art Fair
Ann Arbor Street Art Fair. CREDIT: Dan Kier

AmericanStyle readers went for the tried and true in casting their votes for this year’s Top 10 Fairs & Festivals winners. Every one of them has already placed in the Top 10 within the past five years—some more than once. With excellent selections of art and crafts, delicious street food and exciting live performances, these shows have indeed come up with winning formulas for success.

Kentucky Crafted maintains a lock on the top spot for the third year in a row, proving you can’t beat its “bluegrass blend” of traditional and contemporary fine craft.

The rest of the best are scattered across the country, from Massachusetts to Missouri, and from Kentucky to California. Some are decidedly urban affairs, such as the Ann Arbor Street Art Fair, while others, like the Francisco’s Farm Arts Festival, offer an escape to the countryside. Every one of them has a record of excellence.

Details on each of the 2012 Top 10, together with comments from readers who love them, follow below. Be sure to also check out our month-to-month calendar by clicking here.

1. Kentucky Crafted: The Market

Louisville, Ky.
Kentucky Crafted: The Market is a consistent favorite with AmericanStyle readers. Jeffrey Lambert of Prestonsburg, Ky., explains why: “Excellent crafters, tremendous crowds, beautiful surroundings and traditional Kentucky hospitality!” This year’s event, on March 19-20, will feature the best of fine art and craft, as well as musical performances, specialty foods and the chance to meet Kentucky authors. Learn more at http://kycraft.ky.gov.

2. Scottsdale Arts Festival

Scottsdale, Ariz.
Every spring, 200 jury-selected artists from throughout the U.S. convene in Scottsdale, offering art and crafts representing all mediums. The festival, in its 42nd year, also offers gourmet food, live music and family activities. Reader Kelly Rich of Scottsdale says, “It has an awesome selection of artists and great music. The venue and weather are wonderful. It is great for the family!” This year’s festival will occur March 9-11. Visit www.scottsdaleartsfestival.org for more information.

3. Paradise City Arts Festival

Northampton, Mass.
Readers love the selection of art and crafts at the Paradise City Arts Festival in Northampton. “It has quality crafts at a variety of price points and categories,” says Patricia Bril of Hadley, Mass. “It’s well laid out, and there’s a terrific attitude among the artisans and the crowd.” There should certainly be a great attitude at the next show, May 26-28, which will feature 250 artisans, a silent auction for charity and tasty food. Go to www.paradisecityarts.com for more information.

4. Saint Louis Art Fair

Clayton, Mo.
Downtown Clayton welcomes visitors every year to the Saint Louis Art Fair. Visual and performing arts, delicious food and activities for kids make the event a must-see. “It manages to share an amazing variety of high-quality artwork and activities and performances for everyone,” writes Emily Fisher of St. Louis. For more details on this fall festival, scheduled on Sept. 7-9 this year, check out www.culturalfestivals.com.

5. St. James Court Art Show

Louisville, Ky.
Every October, the historic neighborhood of Old Louisville provides the setting for the St. James Court Art Show. The locale, along with the size of the event and the great selection of art, garnered readers’ votes. “It’s huge! You have such a variety of art to choose from, and the scenery of Old Louisville is always a plus,” says Louisville resident Constance King. The 56th annual juried event runs Oct. 5-7 this year. For more information, click on www.stjamescourtartshow.com.

6. Paradise City Arts Fesitval

Marlborough, Mass.
The Northampton festival’s sister show and namesake made our Top 10 this year. Quality crafts, from blown glass to hand-forged jewelry, as well as fine art paintings and sculpture, make it a winner with AmericanStyle readers. Anna Poulos of Winthrop, Mass., writes, “I enjoy the uniqueness and variety of crafted creations on display.” The next show takes place March 16-18. Go to www.paradisecityarts.com for more information.

7. La Quinta Arts Festival

La Quinta, Calif.
Celebrating its 30th year, the La Quinta Arts Festival brings art and crafts to the Coachella Valley. As reader Sue Brogan of La Quinta puts it, it’s “just a happy place!” The festival is held outdoors, against a stunning backdrop of the rugged Santa Rosa Mountains. The 2012 festival runs March 8-11. For more information, visit www.lqaf.com.

8. Ann Arbor Street Art Fair, the Original

Ann Arbor, Mich.
The Ann Arbor Street Art Fair has been delighting patrons with contemporary fine art and crafts since its founding in 1959. “Ann Arbor is history and tradition,” writes Karen Gunther of Plano, Texas. She also says she likes the “atmosphere” and the “variety of artists.” Held on the central campus of the University of Michigan, this year’s festival takes place July 18-21. Go to www.artfair.org to learn more.

9. Francisco’s Farm Arts Festival

Midway, Ky.
OK, technically it’s at a vineyard, not a farm. But readers are raving over this festival, held right in the heart of Kentucky’s horse country. “Beautiful venue. Well run. Wonderful artists!” writes Anita Hopper of Indianapolis, Ind. This year, the festival will feature only artists who have received formal invitations to exhibit, marking a departure from previous events. The festival runs June 23-24. For details, visit www.franciscosfarm.org

10. Kentuck Festival of the Arts

Northport, Ala.
With more than 250 artists, the Kentuck Festival showcases exciting art and crafts, as well as demonstrations of traditional skills such as blacksmithing and quilting. “It is just wonderful. Our whole family looks forward to going to see what’s new and the old faithfuls,” says Jan Phillips of Coker, Ala. This year, the Kentuck Festival takes place Oct. 20-21. For more information, check out www.kentuck.org.

Follow this link to see a month-by-month listing of fairs and festivals around the country.

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