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Danville's Constitution Square festival thrives despite funding cuts

September 19, 2009|By SUSIE LAUN

The smell of BBQ and bluegrass tunes drifted through the air of downtown Danville Saturday as festival-goers made their way through Constitution Square, buying crafts and chatting with local vendors.

This weekend marks the 31st annual Constitution Square Arts Fest, but the event nearly wasn't to be this year after it lost state funding due to economic hard times.

But the Heart of Danville, The Danville-Boyle County Convention and Visitors Bureau, and The Community Arts Center worked together to keep the festival alive. Julie Wagner, the Heart's executive director, said the plan is to continue the festival in the future., with or without state funding.

"I did it because it's good for Danville," she said, adding that local groups such as the Kiwanis Club rely on the festival to help raise funds.

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If the Great American Brass Band Festival is a national festival, then the Constitution Square Arts Fest, which began Friday and will wrap up today, is a regional one, Wagner said.

Wagner said that about 147 vendors were at this weekend's festival — almost double the amount the festival had last year.

"It's a community festival," she said. "And we want to have some variety."

The variety includes arts, crafts, food, activities and music that Wagner said can appeal to everyone who comes to the festival.

Mount Sterling resident Linda Thompson came to the festival for her third year to demonstrate and talk to people about her habit — weaving.

In the past Thompson has set up her spinning shop in the square, but this year she brought her loom and spent the day working on bread towels. She said she began at about 9 a.m. Saturday and hoped that she would have enough to keep her busy until the end of the festival.

Weaving, spinning and knitting are among the hobbies that Thompson busies herself with and she said that Constitution Square and other art festivals help her keep up her habit.

"It gives me an outlet for many different things," she said.

Thompson said she gets to continue with her craft, express her artistic side, talk to people and get rid of the things she makes. She said family members only need so many scarves, placemats and rugs and art festivals give her the opportunity to let other people enjoy something that she enjoyed making.

Frankfort resident and vendor Nichole Harrod, making her first visit, said she likes the interaction at the festival.

Harrod was making and selling clay bowls and vases and enjoyed her first time really "experiencing" Danville.

"It's a nice sense of community," she said.

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