At John Tyler, art festival serves as a community bridge – Chesterfield Observer
Chesterfield craftswoman Marion Ivey works in a world of cozy crocheted scarves and soaps that smell of honeysuckle and chocolate. And this weekend she’s sharing that world with the public at John Tyler Community College’s 12th annual Fool for Art Festival.
Ivey and her daughter Monica are just two of roughly 70 art and craft vendors who will set up shop at the Midlothian campus this Saturday to ply wares ranging from candles, jewelry and pottery to paintings, photography and sculpture. Ivey has operated her Natural Accents booth at the festival for the past seven years, selling crocheted items and all-natural soap that she and her daughter make themselves.
“The grounds are kept nicely, the people are nice, and [the festival] always draws a crowd,” Ivey says. “The food is good, too,” she adds, referencing the handful of food vendors that participate in the event. She recommends the Polish sausage; Monica is partial to the funnel cakes. Fool for Art was named for April Fool’s Day, as the first festival was held April 1, 2006. It began as a way for the two-year college to engage the Midlothian campus’ surrounding community through art. Over the years, the event has continued every April, though not on the first of the month, and has evolved to incorporate more of the subjects taught at John Tyler.
In addition to arts and crafts, the festival will include hands-on educational activities involving subjects like the human body, cybersecurity, vacuums, electromagnets and more. A large Operation-like game will let players recreate what it’s like to be a surgical technician in an operating room, and children will have the opportunity to craft and learn Spanish words.
“It’s a great opportunity to open up the campus, allow [the public] to come through the classrooms,” says Patricia Smeltz, professor of biology at the Midlothian campus. “A lot of kids have never peered through a microscope. It sparks a level of excitement, particularly in younger kids.”
This year also marks the 50th anniversary of John Tyler Community College (see page 5 for a history of the institution). To celebrate the college’s birthday, the festival will feature a photo booth where visitors can take pictures with props from different generations. Staff will help visitors make their own personal time capsules, and there will be a talk about the school’s history, along with dancing in the courtyard that will celebrate music through the decades. From 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., a “Happy Birthday JTCC” party will take place, celebrating the school’s history through pop culture.
“[Fool for Art is] a great way to get out, be part of the community, have fun learning some new things, meeting some new people,” Walker says. “You might find an interest that you didn’t know you had, and you’ll get to walk around and interact with a lot of great art.” ¦
The Fool for Art festival takes place April 22 from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. at John Tyler Community College’s Midlothian campus, 800 Charter Colony Parkway, 23114. For more information, visit jtcc.edu/foolforart.