SCITUATE - Walking around the craft section at the 49th annual Scituate Art Festival last Sunday, Chepachet native and Cumberland resident Kriston Tretton captured what the popular Rhode Island tradition feels like for her.
"It's like going to a museum with living artists," said Tretton, who noted that she's been coming to the festival for at least 15 years and uses it as an opportunity to get some Christmas shopping done and enjoy the fall weather.
Those who visited the Scituate Art Festival over Columbus Day weekend enjoyed cool, crisp fall weather and plenty of sunshine.
On Sunday, cars were parked at least a mile down Route 6 in both directions from the festival grounds, located at the intersection of Routes 6 and 116 in the village of North Scituate.
Every year, the festival features more than 200 artists and crafters in at least a dozen media including paintings (acrylic, oil, pastel, watercolor), photography, sculpture, ceramics, handmade clothing and embroidered goods, jewelry, and items made from glass, metal, and wood.
A section dedicated solely to antiques featured 15 vendors this year.
In addition to the art, there's also food stations, run by local nonprofit organizations, and a stage set up for musical acts to perform throughout the weekend.
Paul Leveillee, president of the Scituate Art Festival committee, said that because of the quality of the art, "It's a place people want to go. It's nice. You get to see everybody you know."
Many artists and crafters who return to the festival year after year say that the Scituate Art Festival is one of their favorite festivals to take part in, for a variety of reasons.
"Honestly, it's home," said Kathleen Tondreau, of Pastels by Kathy. "You see a lot of people you haven't seen in a long time."
Tondreau, of Lincoln, had a booth set up displaying colorful pastel paintings of landscapes, sunsets, sunrises, flowers, and even her own rendition of Vincent van Gogh's famous "The Starry Night."
It's her fifth year at the Scituate Art Festival, she said, adding that she started painting in 2007 as a hobby. "I started with a flower and now here I am."
She pointed out that just because her work is referred to as pastels: "I like a lot of color. I'm into oranges, deep reds, and purples."
A few rows down from Tondreau was artist Greg Stones, an opaque watercolor painter and author of illustrated humor books including "Penguins Hate Stuff," "Zombies Have Issues," and "Ninjas Have Issues."
Stones, of Greenville, has been displaying his small, zany paintings featuring zombies, ninjas, penguins, and Sock Monkeys, at the Scituate Art Festival since 1996 after he graduated from college, only missing one year, he said.
"It's become one of my best shows," he said. "It's been awesome."
His paintings are small, he said, because he likes to draw visitors in and catch them off guard, which is why he also likes going to art festivals.
"I like to make people laugh," he said. "I have no other skills."
Across the street, Robert Fishman, of Scituate, had a booth filled with his pottery.
He may be a familiar face to returning visitors, as he's been displaying his work at the Scituate Art Festival for more than 30 years, he said.
"You get the opportunity to meet the people who are buying," he said. "That interaction completes the process. It's very common to see people come back ... and add to their collections."
He said that he likes the Scituate Art Festival because it attracts a wide variety of people.
"Just look around," he said, pointing out young families and older groups of people. "Introducing young people to fine arts and crafts (is) incredible."
On Sunday afternoon, a handful of visitors were gathered around Fishman's booth, picking up and asking questions about pieces of kitchenware that he crafted.
Sharon Lenox, of Scituate, who's been coming to the festival since 1980 when she and her family moved to town, said, "I think I'm one of his biggest fans."
While there were more artists than not who have been frequent contributors to the festival, this year's festival featured 23 new artists and 18 new crafters, according to Sheila Durfee, vice president of the Scituate Art Festival.
"I think it's going well," she said, walking around the festival grounds Sunday afternoon.
"I've been having a good time checking out the new exhibitors," she added. "We're trying to attract some younger artists."
This year was the first that Ian Mohon, an artist from Providence, displayed his paintings at the Scituate Art Festival, though he's been at other festivals for the past 5 or 6 years, he noted.
"Most people don't know that I'm here yet," he said. "I've gotten a good response from people."
His paintings, many featuring soft yellows, blues, and pinks, are colorful interpretations of local landmarks - historic or iconic buildings, said the full-time artist and stay-at-home dad.
"I like to keep (the buildings) recognizable to the community," said Mohon, a former tattoo artist. "It's never meant as an architectural rendering." Instead, he calls them "personality portraits" that capture a "sense of space."