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Marion Arts Festival uses month-long virtual event to focus on Iowa artists

Updated: May. 15, 2021 at 7:46 PM CDT
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MARION, Iowa (KCRG) -The Marion Arts Festival is virtual this year, and lasts an entire month instead of just one day. The online festival launched in late April and runs through May 23rd.

When artists at the first Marion Arts Festival set up their booths in 1992, Marion artist Priscilla Steele was there helping lead the charge.

“I was familiar with the practical scenes, and art festivals and what was necessary, as far as protocol, to make them work with what artists expected. And I knew artists,” Steele said.

29 years later, she’s one of the artists participating in this year’s virtual festival. After it was canceled last year due to the pandemic, organizers decided to use an online format for 2021.

Steele says the month-long virtual event has benefits for artists, including gaining experience in selling their work online, as well as giving artists and customers more time than the usual one-day event.

“People used to come at the crack of dawn because they were afraid that things were going to be sold out. Sold out isn’t going to happen here,” Steele said.

The event includes dozens of artists with a wide range of works, including painting, woodworking, and ceramics.

Marion Arts Festival board member Madeline Jarvis says the event makes a point to bring attention to Iowa artists, saying “This year we did add additional artists as well, focusing in on Iowa, so we can really heal at home when it comes to derecho recovery and COVID recovery.”

Jarvis says they hope to be back in-person for next year’s festival, saying ”We’re people-people. We miss the face-to-face conversation and there’s really nothing that can replace watching artwork happening in front of you.”

The Marion Chamber of Commerce and Uptown Marion District hosted the Marion Art’s and Crafts Fest on Saturday. The event gave several local artists the chance to showcase their creations in person.

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