CenterFest brings Durham together
Downtown was buzzing Sunday with the sights, sounds and smells of the 39th Annual CenterFest Arts Festival.
The clouds and rain that marked Saturday were a memory as patrons walked the sidewalks of central downtown Durham, including CCB Plaza and the Five Points area, to enjoy live music, arts and crafts, food and fun..
This year’s festival brought together more than 140 visual artists from 17 states to showcase and sell their original works. Ranging from painting and basket weaving to clay and jewelry, there was more than ample opportunity to get some early holiday shopping out of the way.
The variety of crafters and venders on hand was not wasted on Sandra Janovitch, a regular to the Raleigh-Durham festival scene.
“The music is wonderful and the art is just unbelievable,” Janovitch said. “My favorite is the art because there’s such a wide variety. I go to all the festivals in the area and this is the most diverse. There are a lot of vendors.”
Janovitch swayed to the New Orleans-like music of MASK or Mutual Admiration Social Klub, on the main music stage. Her poodle, Baby, didn’t seem to mind the music or the crowd as she stood quietly by Janovitch.
Many visitors brought their leashed pets. Groups of children laughed and dance together while couples of all ages held hands as they walked past vendors and sat listening to music.
Other performing artists scheduled to take to one of the six performance areas were Chris Keller and Aurora Jazz, TROSA Band, CenterFest FlashMob, Mary Rocap, Thelonious and Dackel.
The arts and crafts on display were evaluated by Merit Award judges who selected winning artists and awarded $2,500 in cash prizes to best in show. The CenterFest 2013 Citizens Choice Award gave festivalgoers the opportunity to say whose work they liked the most.
Others saw this event as a time for area residents to come together around something positive in light of the troubles in the city and beyond.
“In the community with all of the violence, we need some healing, to come together with events like this that bring people together regardless of socioeconomics, race or sexual orientation,” said Tom Robinson. “I’m enjoying the music, the food and seeing the people walking around with smiles on their faces.”
Seated at a table with an umbrella with Barbara Little, Robinson added that there’s a connection between him and the music that can’t be ignored.
“The Blues are part of the black American heritage,” he said. “It talks about the highs and lows of life.”
Seated beneath the shade of a tree on CCB Plaza was Shawna Anderson and her 10-month-old son, Alex. Shawna snacked on a pastry while Alex took in all the sights.
“It’s a good event to bring the little one to,” said Anderson, who was at her first CenterFest and plans to return next year. “I love the music. For him, it’s all the people, the colors and lots of things to look at.”