Art in the Park returns to Rutland

Published: Aug. 8, 2020 at 11:46 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 10, 2020 at 6:34 AM EDT
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RUTLAND, Vt. (WCAX) - Rutland’s Art in the Park festival returns for the first time since COVID-19 cut it short.

Locals are looking for art and local artists are building their business, so both say they’re ecstatic summer events are back in session. Briana Mangi, a native of Rutland, happens to fall into both categories. She says she couldn’t wait to check out the venue.

“I love to support local artists, and I’m an artist myself,” Mangi said. “So I’m definitely interested to see whats going on in there.”

Sherri Birkheiner Rooker, Executive Director of the Chaffee Art Center, which hosts the event, says this year’s festival was scaled down to meet COVID guidelines, downsizing from over sixty different tents and pop-ups to just over twenty. They’re also requiring everyone to wear masks and limiting capacity to 150 guests inside the venue at a time.

“This is our first big event though because we’ve been closed since March, we opened in the middle of June with a limited schedule at the Chaffee, which is across the street. Everyone who comes in is counted for the first one-fifty, and they have to go in one direction, and there’s arrows all around the park,” Rooker said.

Both visitors and vendors say they’re glad events like the Art in the Park festival have returned to the Rutland area. Heather Olsen says she’s relieved to see people following state guidelines.

“I’m so happy to see people out,” she said. “Yes, it’s not the same crew that you would see typically, but it’s still nice to see people out, and everybody is really doing their part.”

”I’m really impressed with the turnout,” said Alyssa Stewart of the Stewart Maple Company. “I wasn’t sure what to expect, but it’s a beautiful day. People seem excited to be out and embracing kind of the new conditions that we’re all out here with.”

Vendors and visitors say they don’t mind the new rules and regulations. Local artist Kelly Gearwar had a chance to showcase some of her projects.

“It’s great to see that they were going to do it, obviously with some restrictions for everyone’s safety which is absolutely amazing,” she said. “I was so happy that it was still going on because a lot of things have been cancelled, so I was just happy to have a chance to show off my work.”

The Chaffee Art Center plans to hold another Art in the Park festival in October

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