The Edmonds Arts Festival has grown from a small community art fair to one of the most prestigious in the Pacific Northwest, attracting artists from across the nation and Canada and hosting a nationally recognized juried student art exhibit. It brings tens of thousands of people to the city to see the work of more than 200 artists and craftspeople, enjoy live entertainment and delicious local food, and patronize the city’s businesses and restaurants. On this, the Festival’s 63rd anniversary, let’s take a look back at how it all started.
The first Edmonds Arts Festival, held in 1958, was called the Edmonds Spring Art Festival. That year, the festival was an exhibit of works by local artists that took place at the Surf and Sand Marina from May 22 – 25.
Incorporating the work of student artists has been in the Festival’s DNA ever since the beginning. The first Edmonds Arts Festival included an exhibit of student artwork at the Edmonds Public Library from May 19-24. Beverly Berg of Edmonds High School won first prize in the student art show that year for her abstract drawing.
By 1961, the Festival was being held in June and it featured workshops, demonstrations, and talks by artists. The 1961 Festival also played host to the Driftwood Players’ performance of the one-act play “Madame President.” The Driftwood Players’ readings would be part of the Festival for many years to come.
By 1963, the Festival was drawing large numbers of people from throughout the greater Seattle area, and by 1968, the Festival had overflowed its venue at the Civic Center. “So much interest has been generated in the festival that the number of art works entered for display has usurped all available wall and portable posting board space in the civic center. Therefore, the civic center grounds have been utilized” to accommodate the entire exhibit, one newspaper clipping read.
In 1983, the Edmonds Arts Festival Foundation began using limited-edition posters for the Festival as a fundraising tool, and in 2013, the Edmonds Arts Festival began using posters with images by local artists to market the Festival.
The Edmonds Arts Festival plays a very important role in supporting art education and community arts. Any profits from the annual Festival are given to the Edmonds Arts Festival Foundation, which uses those funds for college scholarships, community arts grants to local arts organizations, art education grants, and public art installations like the mural depicting ancient Coast Salish life by Tulalip Tribes artist Ty Juvinel, which has been installed in front of the Edmonds Historical Museum.
While there was no Festival in 2020, the Edmonds Arts Festival has been working hard to bring the festival back in 2021 in a safe and socially distanced way. Our jurors are hard at work selecting artists for our Booth Artists exhibit, applications for food booths/food trucks and performing arts are open, and applications for our juried Gallery Arts show have been pouring in as well.
Because of the 2020 Festival cancellation, we need your help to ensure that there will be a festival on Father’s Day weekend 2022. Please donate to support the Edmonds Arts Festival by using the Donate link at the top of our website or by contributing to our GoFundMe.
The Festival is run entirely by volunteers, who do tasks ranging from booth and exhibit setup to staffing the information booth to giving booth artists a break when they need it and providing a point of contact for performing artists and food booth operators. Volunteers manage parking, get visitors to and from the parking area shuttle buses, check art works in or out, manage art sales, and much more.
The Edmonds Arts Festival wouldn’t be possible without our hundreds of volunteers and support from the local businesses who have chosen to be Festival sponsors. We’re very grateful to the city and people of Edmonds, and we hope that you’ll come out and enjoy the festival this Aug. 27-29 so we can continue to give back to the community we love.