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ART BEAT: Mark your calendars for 'Barefoot in the Park' arts festival

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Special Photo Barefoot in the Park plans to add folk art and a multicultural area to its ninth annual festival May 11 and 12.

Although it is chilly now, the organizers of Barefoot in the Park Arts Festival, held in Duluth's Town Green each spring, are making plans for this annual celebration of the arts and arts education. This year's event will take place May 11 and 12.

There will be a lot of new experiences for festival-goers to enjoy. The festival has always offered an Artists Market with numerous booths offering juried fine visual art for sale, ongoing performances on two stages, Binder's Adult Learning Village, the Children's Tent, the Beer Garden and wine tastings, and food by Proof of the Pudding. The Artists Market itself will have approximately 75 artists from all over the Southeast and beyond.

In addition, this year will also feature a folk art section and an international section of arts, crafts and experiences. The folk art area will be juried, as are the other visual arts, to ensure the highest quality of folk art available. Barefoot organizers are also excited about the international section which will showcase different cultures with fine arts and crafts and hands-on experiences. The performing schedule on the Festival Stage and in the Second Stage area plans to include more international performers as well.

Barefoot in the Park Arts Festival has become a popular Mother's Day event.

"We have found that the festival is a perfect way to celebrate Mother's Day," Barefoot founder and executive director Caryn McGarity said. "Many people bring their moms and let her pick out a Mother's Day gift that she really wants. With all of the visual art and especially the fine jewelry that makes up the Artist's Market offerings, Mom never has a problem finding something perfect. Plus, there is so much to do and enjoy, the festival makes a beautiful experience for the entire family to enjoy together."

The event will also feature a special gala on May 11. This social event has usually been on Friday evening before the festival begins, but organizers have moved it to Saturday this year. Proceeds from this gala will go towards fulfilling Barefoot's mission, which is to grant scholarships to nonprofit arts organizations and for students to further their study in the arts.

"We will be going into our ninth year, and we are really excited about bringing another great event filled with art, education and of course, fun," McGarity said. "Since Barefoot began, we have granted over $50,000 in scholarships to artists and students. We are sure that this year's event will further that tradition of support for the arts in our area."

Barefoot organizers are seeking visual artists and also folk art and international visual artists, craftsmen and performers. To find out more about the festival and how to submit your art or performing group for consideration, visit www.barefootinthepark.org.

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