Arts fest

The Page Valley Arts Council will hold the inaugural Festival of the Arts this weekend in Downtown Luray. Featuring more than 50 local artists and downtown venues, the three-day event kicks off Friday evening and runs through Sunday.

LURAY — Page County’s creativity will be on tap this weekend, from toe-tapping music and fast-paced footwork, to painting, pottery, portraits and much more.

More than 50 local artists are expected at this weekend’s three-day Festival of the Arts, held at downtown venues including the Warehouse Art Gallery, the Performing Arts of Luray Center, Trackside Theater and the Art and Artisan’s Gallery.

“What I find most exciting is that we have a mix of very established, nationally known participants along with high school writers from [PAL’s] Poetry Slam, I Have a Dream and The Art of Sound [events] and more regional artists,” said one of the event’s organizers Cathy Herbert. “It’s amazing to see the richness and diversity of artists, artisans and performers in Page County.”

Presented by the recently revived Page Valley Arts Council, the inaugural Festival of the Arts is aimed at showcasing local artists and craftsmen while filling a gap in the county’s growing lineup of events, which tend to dwindle in colder months.

By highlighting local talent through the festival and other efforts, the nonprofit arts council hopes to establish Page County as a tourist arts destination, said Herbert, who serves as the council’s vice president.

“We have a lot of ideas moving forward and expect this to be just the start of something very important,” said Herbert, adding that the all-volunteer council hopes to provide additional events throughout the year.

Eventually, organizers hope to grow the festival to an annual, weeklong event, according to the council’s secretary and owner of Shenandoah Moon Susan Rocke.

“It’s just another opportunity to bring visitors to town,” said the council’s president and owner of the Warehouse Art Gallery Jim Mayes, referring to the county’s $67-million-a-year tourism industry (based on the most recent numbers by the Virginia Tourism Corp.).

The three-day Festival of the Arts kicks off at 7 p.m. Friday at the Performing Arts of Luray Center with a Round Robin Music Sampler, featuring live music ranging from jazz to ‘60s’ rock and ‘50’s classics, to classical guitar. While events throughout the weekend are free, a $5 donation is suggested at PAL performances.

Festivities will continue Saturday, with performers from the Inspiring Dreams Dance Studio taking the PAL stage at 11 a.m. and authors reading their works at the Trackside Theater from 1 to 4 p.m. On-going events throughout the weekend include instructional videos, live music and an art exhibit at the Arts and Artisans Gallery; fiber arts and other demonstrations at the PAL Center; and artist demonstrations, assorted media and live music at the Warehouse Art Gallery.

Saturday will culminate at the PAL Center from 7 to 10 p.m. during a second Round Robin Music Sampler before picking back up at noon on Sunday, when the Shenandoah Valley Civil War Dancers will take the PAL stage, followed at 2 p.m. by the Shenandoah Valley Cloggers.

The Festival of the Arts is a free event and kicks off at 7 p.m. on Friday, March 23 at the PAL Center with rotating musical performances. Festivities will continue from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, March 24 at various venues before culminating in a final installment from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday, March 25. Sunday’s events will run until 4 p.m.

In addition to live performances and demonstrations, the festival will include hands-on opportunities and artwork sales. Many downtown eateries will offer specials during the celebration.

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