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ART BEAT: Suwanee Day marks 26 years of showcasing local artists

Photo by Brian Giandelone

Photo by Brian Giandelone

The first Suwanee Day was held in 1984 and consisted of 75 participants.

According to longtime city resident Loretta Roberts, the purpose of this first event was to "show and tell" newcomers what Suwanee was all about.

Twenty-six years later, Suwanee Day is one of the biggest festivals in the area, anticipating a crowd of 40,000 for the event Saturday. Approximately 200 booths will feature fine artists and crafters, and there will be continuous live entertainment, two road races, a parade and lots of food. Beginning at 8 a.m. with the 5K road race, followed by the start of the 10K at 9 a.m., the parade will commence at 10 a.m. Meanwhile, the booths full of artwork and fine crafts will be open for visitors to peruse at 10 a.m. when the festival officially starts. It will close at 10 p.m.

Vickie Johnson, founder and president of the North Gwinnett Arts Association, is excited about the event.

"Suwanee Day has been around for almost 30 years," she said. "If ever there was a testimony to how Suwanee feels about the arts, Suwanee Day is a primary example."

There is not just one form of art presented.

"Everything from entertainment to crafts to fine arts, cuisine -- you name it, Suwanee loves it," Johnson said. "It is this type of authentication that will continue to see Suwanee Day grow. Suwanee recognizes that the folks who enjoy Suwanee Day love and want the arts, and they have responded by putting together a winning event for community, artists and business."

The new North Gwinnett Arts Association will be represented with some of its members participating.

"The North Gwinnett Arts Association Inc. has found a great home in Suwanee," Johnson said. "This organization is cheered on by the encouragement and support that the town of Suwanee gives the NGAA membership. Many of our members play a part in Suwanee Day, and the numbers who do so will continue to grow as Suwanee Day proves to be a winning event in the history, present and future of Suwanee."

Artists from all over the region will be on hand with their wares. One of the fine artists featured will be Kristen Anderson of Sugar Hill. Anderson's company, Silver Box Designs, which she founded in 2003, is located in Tannery Row Artist Colony. Her work began with a simple silver box, a prayer box for prayers and wishes. She attributes the concept as reminding her of placing a prayer in Jerusalem's Wailing Wall many years ago.

Other fine artists' work include Andi Szanti's amazing hand-woven baskets and Nancy Highfill's wheel-thrown and handbuilt clay creations. Anita Stewart's ArtsCool will be on hand as well as many other fine artists.

Crafters will be in abundance, including such imaginative and alluringly named companies as Daisycakes Soap, Doggie Bags, Four Little Bubbles, Get All Hooked Up, Memories Catcher and Southern Butterflies. Crafts will include jewelry, pottery, dolls, caricatures, pastries, art glass, beads, fine dresses and much more.

No one will leave hungry, either. Food concessions will provide everything from pizza to smoothies to cupcakes to Italian ices. Chick-fil-A, the Greek Tavern and something called "The Runaway Pigs" will make sure visitors are well fed.

Visitors are advised to come early as the crowd will be large. For more information, visit www.suwaneeday.com or call 770-945-8996.

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