Atalaya put her best foot forward last weekend as she opened her doors to artists and visitors lured to her storied grounds by the promise of good art, food and music during the 37th annual Atalaya Arts and Crafts Festival.
The 100 artists selected from more than 200 entries to the juried show came from as far away as Utah and Colorado and as close as Murrells Inlet and Pawleys Island.
And the visitors who browsed and bought represented nearly as diverse a geographic distribution.
Some browsers, like Michael Magin, a teacher who lives in Surfside Beach, used the three-day event to get an early start to the Christmas shopping season. He pulled out a fish print that he said “would look good for my parents’ house.”
For others, such as Gilda Barnwell, who works for the South Carolina Artisan Center in Walterboro, it was an opportunity to appreciate “fine-quality, handmade work,” especially for South Carolina artists.
“This is an absolutely beautiful setting,” said artist Jean Yao, as she adjusted her palm baskets that take her anywhere from three weeks to two months to create after she collects the natural materials. “I want to let the materials shine.”
Debbie Benedick clutched a picture as she left the grounds with a smile on her face.
“We were driving in from Charleston and saw the signs. Couldn’t help it. Had to see,” she said.
For Nate Russell and Chedrick Butler, the festival was part of a day’s work.
The two, employees of Drunken Jack’s were setting up the food offerings – shrimp, flounder and oyster platters, barbecue, fish and seafood sandwiches.
By the time the crowds arrived, the restaurant’s serving line was humming like a well-oiled machine.
Setting up the festival has become easier through the years, even as the event’s reputation has grown.
“We don’t look for a specific flavor,” explained Brenda Magers, Huntington Beach State Park manager, pointing out that this year’s art offerings included basketry, clay and porcelain, glass, jewelry, leather, fiber and wearble art, metal work, oil and acrylics, printmaking, photography, stonework, watercolors and pastels, woodworking and items that didn’t quite fit in any specific category.
Returning artists got first choice of their space from the previous year. But after that, it was first-come, first-served.
Many artists are veterans from previous years, others take a break and then return, and still others, like Kathryn Nidy-Cukier are brand new.
“My partner is a potter and he has been here before, but he waited too long to enter this year,” Nidy-Cukier said between customers of her multimedia works. “Next year, we’ll both be here.”
So, too, will Tommy Kurtz, who recently bought a house in Pawleys Island.
“I’ve seen this (the festival) online for the past two years. I finally made it,” he said.
By Anita Crone
For The Times
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