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Art Beat: Barefoot in the Park celebrates five years of fun

If you need a neat Mother's Day idea for your family, or if you simply want to spend a lazy day experiencing all types of fine art, then plan to be on the Duluth Town Green May 9 and 10.

Barefoot in the Park Fine Arts Festival is back for its fifth year of celebrating visual, performing and children's arts. And this year a literary component has been added.

Barefoot in the Park was created by the Gwinnett Convention and Visitor's Bureau, which maintains its leadership of the event as a way to introduce the various fine artists of Gwinnett County to the public. This year activities run from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. May 9. On May 10, the Dobbins Air Force Base Color Guard will begin the day by presenting the colors as the Gwinnett Symphony Orchestra plays the national anthem just before noon; activities then last until 5 p.m.

Barefoot is a wonderful event for families. There's so much for kids to do. The Children's Art Park is sponsored this year by Legacy Academy. Each day the first 500 children arriving will receive a free T-shirt. Activities for children include Legacy Academy's moon sand and chalk art project, Young Chef's Academy's homemade "edible" playdough making and Pinckneyville Community Center's create your own hand-crafted clay ornament project.

In addition, the Gwinnett Environmental and Heritage Center will have kids planting seeds into a creative planter made from totally recycled materials. The Hudgens Center for the Arts will help children create and take home their own duct tape wallet. (Families take note: The park's big water fountain will not be turned on during Barefoot.)

Of course, fine art is the basis of the event. At least 50 visual artists will have their white tents lining the Town Green. Work will include paintings, mixed media, photography, pottery, glass, jewelry, sculpture and metal and wood art.

Young artists have a place as well - 120 pieces of art from young artists in the Duluth school cluster will be on display in the Children's Art Park tent.

There is also a full schedule of performers in two venues. On the Festival Stage, local nonprofit groups will present their dancing, singing and instrumental talents beginning at 11:45 May 9 and at noon May 10. The Beer Garden will be a lively place to hang out, with everything from standup comedy to Celtic music to barbershop harmony. For a complete lineup of performers, go to www.barefootinthepark.org.

Also the Book Bistro, sponsored by Barnes and Noble, will feature famous authors and exciting events to take care of the literary component to this most complete of arts festivals.

Holly Calmes is a freelance writer and public relations consultant specializing in the arts. E-mail her at hcalmes@mindspring.com.