Fall in the Pioneer Valley represents a lively time for the arts. From October 10th through 12th, Paradise City Arts and Crafts Festival, located at the Three County Fairgrounds in Northampton, MA, is flooded with people from all over the valley who have come to buy (or just to admire) the stunning artwork.
Exploring Paradise City in past years, I have discovered it to be an oasis of fine arts and crafts, produced by artists from all over this country and Canada.
The wide array of arts showcased at Paradise City is part of what makes this festival unique. Studio furniture, art glass, large-scale sculpture, ceramics, jewelry, and painting comprise the art categories. The festival also consists of 2-D mixed media, photography, works on paper, decorative fiber, metal, wood, leather, and wearable art. All the art created by the festivals’ 260 exhibitors is displayed indoors and under tents. In addition, a unique sculpture garden contains some pieces involved in the annual silent auction to benefit Hospice.
When visiting Paradise City, you are sure to discover that the festival’s variety is matched by the level of quality in each artist’s work. Considering that founding directors Geoffrey and Linda Post are both artists with 30 years of experience, it is not surprising that they know how to recognize such expertise.
If you tire out from all the shopping, Paradise City also provides visitors with a wonderful choice of food stands set up by local chefs. Under the food tent you can buy pakoras from India House, pizza from Spoleto, or peanut noodles from Amber Waves. While you’re enjoying the delicious food, you will also have the opportunity to listen to one of the jazz bands that play at Paradise City throughout the three-day weekend. Just like the art, the food and music at Paradise City exemplify the idea that there is something for everyone.
Another striking feature at Paradise City is the exhibitors’ willingness to talk to visitors about their work and their methods of creating it. I remember having an intriguing conversation with a potter there three years ago about the process of Raku firings in ceramics; this inspired me to go on to do Raku at an art camp both this summer and last. Even if you do not consider yourself artistic, Paradise City is mind-opening in the sense that it gives you an idea of the beautiful things people are capable of creating. Whether or not you are seeking it, you will find inspiration at this paradise of the arts.
Because of the amount of work put into the art at Paradise City, the prices can sometimes run a bit expensive. Scarves, hats, and gloves usually range from $15 to $40 and small photographic prints and paintings can also be purchased at a reasonable price. Jewelry has a range of prices, but some of it can certainly be bought at a price which will not put a dent in your wallet. Most of the furniture, wood, art glass, and sculptural pieces sell at a higher price.
Paradise City is open between 10am and 6pm on Saturday and Sunday and from 10am to 4pm on Monday. Student admission fees are $8, adults are $10. Children under 12 are free and three day passes are available for $15. Free $2 off admission coupons are available on the website: www.paradisecityarts.com. The website also has photos of many of the exhibitors’ works.