Earth and Arts takes artistic celebration Downtown

Published 9:00 am Wednesday, April 24, 2024

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Downtown Suffolk was filled with energy and enthusiasm during this year’s Earth and Arts Festival on Saturday. 

Held in collaboration with Keep Suffolk Beautiful and the Suffolk Art League, the event saw residents and artists alike come out to enjoy the fun and celebrate artistic expression while taking part in food, music, and shopping. Over 135 vendors showcased their arts and crafts for purchase, and the Suffolk Master Gardeners held their plant sale and rain barrel workshop during the festivities.

Suffolk Plein Air Society Artist Elizabeth Blanchard was out creating a painting of the festival around her. Blanchard talked about the warm reception attendees gave her after noticing her working on her painting.

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“Painting in public is actually a lot of fun because people get so excited about seeing what you’re doing. Even if they don’t like the work, they still are nice,” Blanchard said humorously. “There’s just a lot of energy. It’s got to be really quick and fast and so, you just approach it differently.”

Attending the festival with her dog Max, Candy LeDoyen called the festival “fabulous.”

“Being so close—we’ve been here for 30 years—it’s a lot of fun to see stuff like this down here. I think it shows a lot of progress and its art,” LeDoyen said. I mean, progress and art go hand in hand. So yeah, it’s great!”

Attending the festival with his daughter, Wayne Gwaltney says he attended previous Earth and Arts festivals and spoke of the event’s move to Downtown Suffolk.

“It really does bring out a lot of conservationists around the area and it also is very warming as far as the acceptance of everything as far as the dogs, the pets, the children, and everything like that,” Gwaltney said. “I was a little skeptical about the crowd process through here, but they shut the whole street down, which is great.”

Citizens’ Voice was also in attendance as a vendor, launching a program to start 1,000 gardens in support of reasonable growth and Keep Suffolk Beautiful. 

“We were looking for easy ways to engage as many citizens in Suffolk as possible,” Rein said. “And we know that trying to address real big city issues isn’t always the easiest thing to do, so we’re starting out with the simplest thing we can think of that was also enjoyable and would add to the value of Suffolk, which is starting a garden and keeping our green spaces alive.”

Likewise, Rein says they are asking those planting a garden to take photos and share them with them on their website, Executive Board Member Denise Murden says they are also looking for new board members and notes the festival’s lining with their goal of bringing awareness to responsible growth in the City of Suffolk.

“It’s a great community event, and it really fits perfectly with our mission because we’re all about making sure that we have responsible growth, that means a healthy environment…”

Artist and oil painter Myke Irving, who sold paintings and prints as a vendor, also says he enjoyed the festival’s move to Downtown.

“Everything from the music to the food, even the people, and I especially love it that it’s on Main St now,” Irving said. “That’s where it needs to stay!”

Suffolk Art League Executive Director Linda Bunch thanked the committee and city for their work in putting the festival together.

“It has been just a fabulous day,” Bunch said. “The community has come out, and our vendors are just incredibly wonderful. Lots of great artwork and crafts and artisans, we couldn’t be happier.”