Barefoot in the Park to offer a variety of activities

It's that time of year again, time to go barefoot.

Gwinnett's festival of fine art, performance and flavors, Barefoot in the Park, will run from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday on the Duluth Town Green. Admission is free.

"There are some wonderful artists," said Cher Austin Thompson, a local glass artist and contact for artists participating in the event. "We have some of the best jewelry artists we have ever had."

The juried portion of this year's festival will conclude about 6 p.m. Saturday when awards, including $6,000 in prize money, will be presented on the main stage.

The work of young, local artists will be on display during Barefoot. The 2009 Children's Art Exhibit will feature close to 150 pieces of artwork created by local students.

"(We have) beautiful art from all ages," Thompson Austin said, "just a wide range of art, very nicely done and it's going to be a nice presentation."

Aspiring young artists can spend some time at the Legacy Children's Art Park, where they can create moon sand and chalk art projects, homemade "edible" playdough, hand-crafted clay ornaments and duct tape wallets and plant seeds in planters made from recycled materials.

Performances throughout the festival will include music, dance, theater and comedy.

"There's entertainment all over," event chairperson Caryn McGarity said.

There is also a new addition to the annual festival.

"This year not only do we have a lot of artists represented from around the country, we have added a literary component," McGarity said.

"Not only can you come out and have your children go through the art park, you can come out and go through the literary part."

The Barnes & Noble Book Bistro will offer a smorgasbord of storytellers, authors and illustrators to satisfy festival-goers' literary cravings. Southern female authors the Dixie Darlins - Patricia Sprinkle, Karin Gillespie and Jackie Miles - will be on hand Saturday offering up wisdom and more in a presentation at

1 p.m., while romance author and Atlanta native Haywood Smith will discuss her books, including "The Red Hat Club" and "Wedding Belles," at 2:30.

Festival-goers can find other writers, including Laurel Snyder, Hallie Crawford, Jan Denise, Maria Corkem, Danny Kofke and Leslie Smith Grant, in the Book Tent during the event.

In keeping with the giving spirit of Barefoot in the Park - proceeds from the festival go toward supporting arts and arts education in Gwinnett - Barnes & Noble Booksellers will be giving back to Barefoot. A portion of the proceeds from the Book Bistro will benefit the festival.

Gwinnett residents can also support Barefoot in the Park by shopping at any Barnes & Noble store Saturday and Sunday with a printable voucher available at www.barefootinthepark.org/subpages/book.html.

"Take the voucher, go to Barnes and Noble, do a little shopping and then come out to the festival," McGarity said.