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August 25, 2013

Sellersburg celebrates and gets artsy

Two festivals offered on same day

SELLERSBURG — Funnel cake or fine art — that was the option for folks in Sellersburg Saturday as the town hosted two unrelated festivals.

Adjacent to Silver Creek High School, nearly 100 booths offered a wide array of handcrafted art during Art in Speed Park. Nearly a mile away, at Silver Creek Township Park, people gathered for Sellersburg Celebrates!

Under the hot afternoon sun in the sprawling, open lawn of Sellersburg Celebrates!, kids and adults enjoyed a busy midway, complete with a Ferris wheel, carousel and other rides. A row of food vendors offered favorite fair eats, including corn on the cob, ice cream, deep-fried onions and ice cream.

Some children waiting in line at a face-painting booth, while others walked around the grounds with large balloon sculptures atop their heads.

While there were countless options for the little ones, Sellersburg Celebrates! had choices for adults, too. Area politicians, Andrew Adams and sitting Judge Daniel Moore, had booths to spread their messages to prospective voters in the upcoming 2014 Clark County Circuit Court No. 1 election.

Each year, the event also gives area businesses an opportunity to interact with community members. Banks, contractors, and craftsmen all had booths to advertise their products to the fairgoers.

Sellersburg Celebrates! also gives non-profit groups, such as youth athletics, churches, and volunteer emergency response agencies the chance to raise funds and awareness.

The New Washington Volunteer Fire Department held a dunking booth, while the Sellersburg Volunteer Fire Department hosted a unique, but time-tested fundraiser of selling chances to smash a parked car with a hammer.

Sellersburg firefighter Rick Cannon, who has been designated to be the president of the 2014 Sellersburg Celebrates! planning committee, said money raised by the department during the event will be turned over to a camp facility near Indianapolis offered to children burned in fires.

Cannon said the vehicle-smashing attraction has been a popular fundraiser dating back several decades to the days of the Sellersburg Street Fair.

“We just like being out here,” he said of the SVFD’s presence at Sellersburg Celebrates!. “We love making bonds with the community.”

Cannon said it is worth the firefighters’ time to work the event because it gives the department a chance to show its appreciation of area citizens.

“Without the support of the community, we wouldn’t be able to be here,” he said.

While there was plenty of games, fair rides and food to enjoy at Sellersburg Celebrates!, for those looking for a taste of higher culture, nearby Art in the Park provided a wine garden and selection of artisan goods, brought from North Carolina, Alabama, Tennessee, Kentucky and locations throughout Indiana.

The quality of the art at the festival is often compared to the extremely popular St. James Court Art Fair each year in Louisville. Some say, however, that the Sellersburg event is better because it draws less traffic and allows visitors more interaction with the artists.

Metalsmith Lloyd Hughes, Lexington, used an antiquated-looking hammer to manipulate a thin piece of copper in his booth as art enthusiasts strolled by.

Hughes is a fourth-generation metalsmith who has been working with the medium for more than 35 years. In his booth hung metal sculptures made to easily spin after catching passing breezes.

Hughes has offered his art in the festival for the past three years, and said he is impressed with organizers’ efforts.

“The treatment to the artists is as good as any show I go to in the midwest,” he said, saying the festival organizers provide breakfast snacks and lunch, and they check on the artists throughout the day to see if they need any assistance.

“Nobody else does that,” Hughes said of other art show administrators. “They are very well organized and do a great job promoting the show.”

Cathy Hillegas, Floyd Knobs, was one of the few local artists selected to participate in Art in the Park.

Hillegas, a watercolor painter, filled her booth with large and small paintings, some in high quality mattes and frames.

The subject of each of the paintings appeared to be inspired by nature.

“I try to do things that people may walk by everyday and don’t notice, like a small flower or a leaf,” Hillegas said. “Those simple things are, sort of, what speaks to me.”

She said she can put up to 80 hours of work into her larger paintings, which she completes at her home and at a studio she uses at Mount Saint Francis.

Like Hughes, Hillegas commended the work of the art fair’s organizers.

“It has grown into something they can really be proud of,” she said, adding she has been in the past 13 Art in the Park events.

In addition to Hughes’ metalworks and Hillegas’ paintings, the art festival offers ceramics, wooden crafts, photography, large lawn art, leather goods, and carefully crafted jewelry.

In a large gazebo, near the center of the shaded park, live music was played throughout the day.

Scott and Julie Straight, Jeffersonville, were found walking past a line of booths carrying a bottle of Huber’s Orchard wine they had purchased moments earlier in the wine garden.

While Julie Straight has been to Art in the Park once before, it was her husband’s first visit.

“This is just wonderful,” Julie Straight said of the event. “You don't have the shoulder-to-shoulder crowd of St. James [art festival], but you have the same great art.”

The couple had only recently arrived to the event and said they were looking forward to seeing was being the artists had to offer this year.

“The best part is you don't know what you’re going to find,” Julie Straight said.

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Erin Klein, a nationally-recognized education blogger and Tom Murray, State and District Digital Learning Policy and Advocacy Director for the Alliance for Excellent Education in Washington, D.C., speak to a group of educators at Jeffersonville High School on Monday. They were just a couple of the big-name education personalities at the second annual Greater Clark Connected Conference.

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