NORMAL — Comfortable fall weather on Sunday lifted spirits of merchants and attendees alike at the Sugar Creek Arts Festival in uptown Normal.
This year's event — which featured around 100 artist vendors and several live music performances — was moved from July to October because of COVID-19 case numbers, according to McLean County Arts Center Executive Director Doug Johnson. He noted they scheduled the event between Illinois State University Family Weekend and homecoming.
"So it's turned out actually wonderfully," Johnson said. "This is the first time I've had artists that have come to me late Saturday afternoon and say, 'I can't be here tomorrow because I've sold everything I have.'
"That's been just phenomenal."
Johnson said they're looking at the possibility of keeping the festival in October and have discussed that with Mayor Chris Koos.
Johnson said Saturday's crowds were as big as any other year.
He also said artists are loving the "fantastic" traffic.
"A lot of these artists, this is their primary gig," he said. "Some of them have been making work for 18 months and this is their first venue."
Champaign's Lisa Kesler won the festival's Best in Show Award. She told The Pantagraph she splits her time between painting and printmaking.
"With both of them, I use a lot of color, a lot of graphic shapes, a lot of repeating patterns," Kesler said.
She also spends her time at the festival working on carving designs onto linoleum print blocks.
"I think it's a very good way for artists to see the reaction of people," Ge said of the event, "and I really appreciate it, because it's a good way to communicate with them, and they will ask questions."
"It is very nice, and lots of people come by and the weather is perfect," she said.
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Pictured on the left is a painting titled "Dance of the Koi" by Sheila Lamberson. She told The Pantagraph she likes to find patterns of light and shadows in her art subjects, adding that "koi have an energy about them."