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Dubuquefest a Work of Arts

More Than 70 Artists Take Part in 28th Annual Event

Emily Klein

Dubuque Telegraph Herald

May 21, 2006

[Note: This material is copyright by the Dubuque Telegraph Herald, and is reproduced here as a matter of "fair use" for non-commercial, educational purposes only. Any other use may require the prior approval of the Dubuque Telegraph Herald.]

Swarms of arts supporters filled two blocks of Dubuque's downtown Saturday to take in music, crafts, food and sunshine at the 28th annual Dubuquefest.

Taylor Durey, 13, of Dubuque, said the festival is a yearly tradition that she and her mom, Jennifer, never miss.

"We like to look at all the stuff. Oh, and the funnel cakes," she said, tearing off a piece of the sugar-dusted dessert.

The three-day, all-arts festival started Friday and ends today. Dubuquefest is sponsored by the Dubuque County Fine Arts Society, a nonprofit arts group dedicated to offering free cultural activities.

Jennifer said she likes being in the warm weather and talking to people she hasn't seen all winter. Dubuquefest is a sure sign that summer is coming, she said, and bringing with it a season full of outdoor entertainment.

Taylor remembers playing on the inflatable rides and taking part in the free painting activities when she was younger. Now she looks forward to hearing music from the various bands that perform in the gazebo in Washington Square and at the Town Clock Plaza, she said.

"I think when I get older, it will be a tradition my family will do, even if we don't live in Dubuque," she said.

More than 70 artists displayed their work at booths in Washington Square for the event. Stands with jewelry, paintings, bird houses, purses, photography and pottery gave customers a smorgasbord of arts to choose from.

Handmade bowls, cutting boards and peppermills with designs made from various types of wood had shoppers stopping at one booth to learn more.

"Everybody wants to know how they're made," said artist Fred Frommelt of Janesville, Wis.

One bowl, made of black walnut, maple and cherry woods, took him more than 10 hours to create. Frommelt glues layers together in a meticulous process to create intricate patterns and finishes by sanding them until smooth, he said.

Most customers purchase his handcrafted items to give as a gift, especially for weddings, he said.

"In a couple months they'll forget who gave them the three toasters, but they'll never forget who gave them something like this," Frommelt said.

This is his second time selling at Dubuquefest and some customers from last year stopped at his booth Saturday to purchase matching items to the ones they bought last year.

One couple, Janet and Jim Fisher of Morrison, Ill., spent their 28th anniversary at the art festival.

Janet said they strolled through the art booths and bought three bags of jewelry before settling in to listen to their favorite band, Patchouli, perform live in the gazebo in Washington Park.

"It doesn't get any better than sitting in the shade with a drink and listening to them," she said. "What better way to celebrate our anniversary?"