The tenth annual Fiber Arts Festival is in full swing. The market opens at 10 a.m. today at the Powerhouse, and there is a reception from 5 p.m. – 8 p.m tonight at the Oxford Treehouse Gallery. Festival admission costs $2 per day and $5 for the entire weekend.
The festival started on Thursday and will end on Sunday. The festival hosts events around Oxford including activities for kids, a multi-vendor market, classes and demonstrations.
The market is hosted primarily at the Powerhouse, but it is not managed by the Yoknapatawpha Arts Council. Director Wayne Andrews said that he views the festival as a key example of the council’s role in Oxford’s community.
“(The Fiber Arts Festival) provides a unique experience for residents to see high-skilled craftspeople and artisans while creating an economic opportunity for those small businesses such as the yarn, rug and quilters in our community,” Andrews said.
Festival coordinator Andi Bedsworth said that the market holds 20 vendor spots and has a minimum attendance of 1000 people. Artists from around the country come to Oxford for opportunities to sell, teach and learn fiber arts.
“We have a very supportive community in Oxford for the arts in general, and many of our residents support the fiber festival every year,” Bedsworth said.
Artist Liza “Q” Wirtz is participating in her first festival this year. After hearing about the festival, Wirtz said she was approached by Bedsworth at her business in Huntsville, where she encouraged Wirtz to become involved.
“She’s a great evangelist for the event, and it sounded like a terrific festival,” Wirtz said.
Bedsworth, a fiber artist herself, was given the position by previous leadership in 2016 and said she wants to reach as many people through the festival as possible.
The festival has grown into a large fiber market with many demonstrations in the past 10 years.
“The fiber festival has continued to grow since its inception,” Bedsworth said. “It originally began as a small gathering and has continually grown to include many vendors and teachers who travel from several states to teach and sell their wares.”
Bedsworth said she wants to inspire, educate and promote all kinds of fiber arts.
Wirtz, like many other vendors,teaches classes throughout the event. With different techniques associated with fiber arts, Wirtz said she is excited to teach other experimental ways to weave and create.
“I love teaching free-spirited, unstructured weaving and art-batt carding — two of the arts I practice in my studio — and talking about them to a variety of people, from established fibery fans to those who are just considering dipping a toe into fibercrafting,” Wirtz said. “I firmly believe that everyone is an artist at heart, and I’m always looking for new chances to get folks started exploring their creativity through the fiber arts. The Oxford Fiber Arts Festival sounded like a terrific opportunity to do this.”
Though the festival’s calendar is posted on the Yoknapatawpha Arts Council website, Bedsworth said there is a small change to Sunday’s schedule of events. There will be no market or activities this Sunday, but the festival will offer one class in the conference room in Newk’s, pending enough advanced registration.