The 2019 Fairhope Arts & Crafts Festival
When: Friday, March 15, 2019 – Sunday, March 17, 2019
The Fairhope Arts and Crafts Committee and the Fairhope Arts and Crafts Foundation proudly present the 67th Annual Fairhope Arts and Crafts Festival on the streets of downtown Fairhope. The festival and foundation along with the the City of Fairhope, Downtown Merchants and Eastern Shore Art Center welcome you to Fairhope March 15, 16, and 17, 2019. The hours are 10am – 5pm Friday through Sunday. The festival is free to the public.
More than 230 exhibitors will bring their best works from all over the country, including many from the Southeast, to showcase at this prestigious show. Enjoy live entertainment and festival cuisine from the food court during this wonderful three-day fine arts festival. It all takes place on the streets of beautiful downtown Fairhope, Alabama.
The festival was chosen as one of the top events in the southeast for March by the Alabama Bureau of Tourism and the event is also one of the top 20 events selected by the Southeast Tourism Society. The festival was also selected in the Top 10 in 2017 by Sunshine Artists Magazine.
2019 is a very exciting year for the Fairhope Arts and Crafts Committee as it represents the third year of the newly formed Fairhope Arts and Crafts Festival Foundation. The Foundation uses the net profits to give back to Fairhope by supporting the arts in the community.
According to records and newspapers, the Arts and Crafts Festival originally started as a tour, planned to coordinate with the Mobile Jaycees’ Azalea Trail and Mobile Mardi Gras celebrations, with the idea that visitors attending these major events in Mobile would be attracted across the bay, thus allowing visitors and local residents a chance to see some of the many talents of Eastern Shore residents.
The first Arts & Crafts tour took place February 22 to February 28, 1953. All exhibits were inside store windows and consisted of a wide variety of interests. The tour schedule included entertainment and craft demonstrations and lasted for an entire week. Although some artists did sell items, the majority of the “tour” consisted of exhibits for viewing only.
In 1965 the tour expanded to include exhibitors and activities from the cities of Spanish Fort and Daphne. The week’s opening ceremonies were held in Spanish Fort and ended with a play in Fairhope. The Chamber reported 4,150 visitors; 52 exhibitors and demonstrators were highlighted, in addition to another 41 artists who participated.
In 1967 there were more than a hundred displays, exhibits, and demonstrations. There was still no entry fee, but all participants were asked to pay a 10% commission on their gross sales. By 1975 craftsmen displayed works and methods in “Craft-Houses” (which were created out of vacant buildings). For the first time in 1978, the show was condensed to three days. This was also the first year craftsmen were placed on the sidewalks, rather than in buildings and businesses.
In 1983, the first prize money was awarded. The Best of Show recipient was given $250 and booths were moved from the edge of the streets to the middle. The Mary McGrath Award was established in 1984. We approach this year’s show with much of the same excitement and enthusiasm that previous festivals and tours shared.
In 1997, the 45th Annual Arts & Crafts Festival was first named one of the top 200 Festivals in the United States by Sunshine Artist Magazine. The Festival has received this same honor in the following years. Artists who participate in shows all over the United States vote upon this award. In 2007 the show was ranked #10. In 2011 the show was ranked #26. The 2013 Festival was ranked #2 in the state of Alabama and #23 in the Nation. In 2017 Sunshine Artists Magazine recognized the Festival as #9 in their Top 200 Best.
As one may see from this history, the Festival has changed in many ways; its exhibitors are no longer only locals; they come from across the United States. We no longer charge the exhibitors commission on their sales, just an entry fee. The number of visitors is now in six-digit figures, and the activities taking place in conjunction with the Festival have grown by leaps and bounds.
The Arts & Crafts Festival’s purpose remains the same to promote good will and festivity to Fairhope and to exhibit for show and sale the highest quality artwork and craftsmanship available and to host the Festival in the loveliest area in the world. The Fairhope Arts and Crafts Festival Foundation’s main purpose is to protect and promote the heritage and integrity of The Fairhope Arts and Crafts Festival.
The festival’s official website can be found here.