Tucked into the State Fair away from the games, rides, bright lights, corn dogs and swirly fries is a special place dedicated to another kind of fun.  Artisans’ Village highlights the skilled art/craft work of a selection of mostly Oregon based artists. For the last 9 years it has been facilitated by Willamette Art Center (WAC) which engages a small army of volunteers to help with the planning and coordination and works daily through the fair to help everything go smoothly for both artists and fair goers.

Artisans’ Village is a popular destination in the fair for people who want to enjoy fine craft work, talk to the creators, see demos, listen to music, and even glaze their own raku pot. Event Coordinator Judy Hellman promises this will be another great year. She reports that the fair has created “a beautiful new setting located in a lovely garden area, north of the Columbia building, west of the garden building and south of the 4H,” featuring shade, beautiful plants, food, music, and of course 20 outstanding artisans showing their creations. The music stage features a mix of folk, blues, and bluegrass and runs from 10:30-2:30 daily. With music, food, great art and friendly artisans, Hellman says the Village is a peaceful oasis in the gaudy whirl of the fair.

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The result of more than 6 months of planning and coordination, Hellman sought a broad range of artisans for the Village, and has definitely achieved her goal.  The creative palate represented this year runs from Pyrofuse featuring Robert Fox’s lampworked glass, through the delectable offerings of Willamette Valley Confectionery. Long time fair favorite, Capital Woodcarvers will be there demonstrating their art and encouraging new carvers. If you love fire and smoke, WAC volunteers have produced about 1000 pots for fair goers to glaze in a range of styles and sizes. In all there are 16 returning artists and 4 new ones. Their bios can be found on the WAC website.  http://www.willametteartcenter.com/event/artisans-village/

A new attraction this year is the addition of a featured artist. Viewers may be familiar with Jim Johnson’s striking work from places like the Happy Valley Sculpture Garden, Federal Way Sculpture Park, Wenatchee’s Waterfront Sculpture Park, and the Keizer Art walk.  The gorgeous, larger than life sculptures will be placed throughout the garden where Artisans’ Village is located.

From handmade soaps to hand spun fiber, from sculpture to painting, from jewelry to upcycled glass, from pottery to leather work, from scented products to wood carving, from hot glass to hats, from food to fiber, Hellman has found one thread common to all the artisans participating in the Village.  She says “They are perfectionists in their work. They are people who wake up every day and say “I’m going to create something beautiful with my bare hands, and it will bring joy to someone. And they do it every day, because they cannot not do it. It is who they are.”  If you are looking for a piece that means something, catches the eye, is fun, unique, and is “art proudly made in the USA, safe, non-toxic, beautiful and delicious,” Artisans’ Village is where you should go. Artisans’ Village is open daily during the fair from 10am-8pm., with demos through the day.