It started as sidewalk art show organized by local artists in 1962. Today, it’s one of the most well-known art festivals in the region with 250 artists and 30,000 to 50,000 people forecasted to enter the village over the weekend from New York to New Jersey to California and even Canada. This year’s Wickford Art Festival, however, promises to be one of the biggest yet as the event celebrates its 50th anniversary.
“From what really began as one artist putting his paintings and art out on the street, it has just turned into something that has impacted the community in a really positive way,” said festival co-director Rich Watrous.
In honor of the big anniversary, Wickford Art Festival directors have planned a month-long celebration, including paintings from festival founder John Huszer.
Paul Wilson of Wilson’s of Wickford was integral in the decision for the founding artists to create their own organization to support the event. In the spirit of the commemorating the festival’s history, a special exhibit will open at Wilson’s of Wickford with artwork from 10 families who were instrumental in the festival’s creation. Many of these pieces of artwork have not been displayed to the public for decades, said Watrous. That exhibit opened June 15 and will remain open through the festival.
“Some of the original sponsors are still in today’s program,” said Frederica McLaughlin, festival director, citing a few: Bart’s Carpet, McKays, and Paul Bailey.
So what is it that sets Wickford’s art festival apart from the rest? Unlike similar events throughout the region, Wickford’s festival is strictly a fine arts festival – meaning you won’t see tables filled with crafts and certainly won’t find any “Made in China” labels.
Opening reception is Friday, July 6. Festival hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, July 7 and 8.
For more festival updates, follow the Wickford Art Festival on Facebook.