Rio Grande Valley

Get ready for the premiere arts & crafts festival in Texas! The Annual event is staged in Kerrville and offers a glimpse into the real artistry of the Lone Star State...

Texas has it's own share of traditional Memorial Day celebrations but perhaps none as spectacular or unique as the annual Texas State Arts & Crafts Fair in Kerrville.

Of course, the long Memorial weekend has always heralded the beginning of summer and the end of school, a time when families head for their favorite weekend getaways loaded with all the necessities needed for outdoor fun. It's traditionally a time for barbeques and fireworks.
But this year's State Arts & Crafts Fair is celebrating it's 35th year and promises to be bigger and better than ever before. If you were thinking of something different to do this year, this may be the perfect answer.

Scheduled for May 26-29, the outdoor festival is a cornucopia of fine arts and crafts displays ranging from historical to contemporary, educational activities, musical stages, dances and, of course, traditional fair-food offerings. Unlike most fine arts and craft fairs throughout the state, this event distinguishes itself by the meticulous judging and selection process in order for artists to even qualify for entry. In the end, only 160 of Texas finest artisans are selected to compete and sell their creative works at this remarkable fair.

The Fair's development was inspired by the success of art fairs in West Virginia and Canada, which brought a respectable amount of tourism dollars to their respective regions.

In 1970 the Texas Tourist Development Agency decided to establish a similar event in the Lone Star State hoping for a boost in tourism figures. The event is the most highly attended Arts & Crafts Fair in the state and now ranks 11th in the nation.

Kerrville was selected as the host city for the annual festival from a number of competing communities. The first arts and crafts fair was held there Memorial Day weekend in 1972.

In the early years the fair was staged on the campus of Schreiner College. But as it grew in size and popularity over it' s 30-plus years it became necessary to find a larger staging ground. In 1995 the Texas Legislature declared the Texas State Arts & Crafts Fair as the official arts and crafts fair in Texas and a few years later the event was moved to the River Star Arts and Event Park. The park encompasses over seven acres of verdant rolling meadows and shade trees overlooking the Guadalupe River.

Perhaps one of the most interesting aspects of the fair is the educational demonstrations offered by craftsmen in the Pioneer Village. Visitors can observe traditional crafts being demonstrated such as blacksmithing, candle-dipping, leather crafts, lye soap demonstrations, and textiles crafts like rug weaving and lace-making. This charming village is as educational as it is entertaining.
Families will also enjoy a special children's area of the fair that offer a variety of hands-on crafts sessions for children. To keep the kids happy there are also entertaining clowns, ponies to ride, storytelling sessions and face painting sessions. And for the active child or the daring adult, there is a rock climbing wall.

No fair would be complete without music and food and there is an abundance of both at the Texas State Arts & Crafts Fair. Musical entertainment is as varied as the artisans displaying their works. There are two stages for musical enjoyment. Musical acts range from jazz to country to rock and folk - all throughout the day.

Musical entertainment this year includes The Grateful Geezers, seasoned professionals who have spent much of their careers as backup musicians to famous acts. Their music is a melding of Blues, R&B, Rock and Jazz spanning the 70's to present day hits.

Also performing is the Scott Rote Band. If you love Texas music, you'll love this band. While they can perform traditional country sounds, their style and favorite tunes have that unique Texas sound reminiscent of Delbert McClinton and Lyle Lovett.
And if you love for rock in the vein of Led Zeppelin, The Who or The Doors, then you'll love the acid rock sound of The Six Gun Band from North Carolina.

Fair food favorites can be found throughout the grounds, like scrumptious turkey legs, corn-on-the cob, sticky sweet funnel cakes, and ice cold snow cones and your favorite sodas, as well as beer and wine.

Speaking of beer and wine, a unique and fun food event will be taking place during the fair that you won't want to miss if you are a Texas wine or beer fan. The 9th Annual Texas Wine & Beer Tasting takes place Friday, May 26, in the new River View Pavilion.
The event will feature hand-picked Texas wines from fine vineyards like Becker, Chisholm Trail, Haak, Quivas, Pheasant Ridge and Texas Hills. Also featured in the event are the sumptuous brews of Real Beer, Shiner, and St. Arnolds breweries.
To complement these libations, attendees are invited to join in a Cajun-style cookout including boiled crawfish, oysters on the half shell, chicken & sausage gumbo, assorted cheeses, crackers and fruits. Attendees will also enjoy the delightful sounds of Harry and the Hightones, a local favorite band whose specialty is Hill Country Swing. Attendance for this "event-within-an-event" is limited, so it is recommended to purchase tickets in advance.

While the event is fun for spectators, it is a life changing event for the artisans.
Many past artists have been discovered through exposure at the Fair. One of the primary purposes of the fair in fact is to encourage and support the growth of artists and their work across the state.
All exhibitors must be residents of Texas and United States citizens, and meet a tough criteria from a jury of judges before acceptance into the event.

The heart of the Texas State Arts & Crafts Fair is exemplified best in it's "Emerging Texas Artist Program". All profits from the Fair go toward educational projects like this one to provide Texas artists and art students with scholarships, fellowships, and funds for workshop attendance in their creative fields.

The Emerging Texas Artist Program encourages art students at College level to compete. Students are chosen by their art department to represent themselves and their school. It is an opportunity for them to win scholarships, sell their works and gain professional confidence.

This year six colleges will be represented including the University of Texas at San Antonio, McLennan Community College, Baylor University, Tyler Junior College, University Of North Texas and Texas State University at San Marcos.
Make the Texas Arts & Crafts Fair a Memorial Day Tradition for your family. There's a little something for everyone in Kerrville and you're sure to take home fond memories and the finest and most unique art in the state.

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