You know how to tell fall is on its way to Durango? The leaves start to change, there’s a slight crisp in the air and, for a weekend in September, Durango Arts Center takes over multiple blocks of East Second Avenue, where it brings a group of fine arts artists from around the country to sell their work.
This year, DAC is celebrating its 27th annual Autumn Arts Festival, to be held this Saturday and Sunday from College Drive to 10th Street on East Second Avenue, with the addition of another block featuring paintings, jewelry, sculpture, clothing, woodwork and more.
Brenda Macon, executive director of DAC, said there will be 91 booths and 88 artists featured. The booth spaces were a breeze to fill, she said.
What: 27th annual Durango Autumn Arts Festival.
When: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
Where: East Second Avenue between 10th Street and College Drive.
More information: Visit https://bit.ly/3lpM0PX.
“We had a record number of applications this year. We had well over 115, I think,” she said. “It’s a juried show, and so we had three jurors that worked on filtering through all the applications and we ended up with a very robust list.”
Because the specter of COVID-19 lingers, social distancing protocols will be in place, masks are encouraged and there will not be live music or food available, although patrons are encouraged to head downtown to check out Durango’s restaurants, Macon said.
The Autumn Arts Festival is DAC’s largest fundraiser of the year, Macon said, adding that not only is it an important financial boost for DAC, it’s a shot in the arm for the local economy as well. The event is also helped along by platinum-level sponsors Legacy Properties West-Sotheby’s International Realty, and the El Pomar Foundation, she said.
“We’ve been doing this now for 27 years, so it’s a really important event for the Arts Center, but we’ve also done an economic impact study, I believe back in 2016, and it showed that this event brings in over half a million dollars to the downtown economy in only two days,” she said. “It’s a pretty impressive economic stimulant for downtown, between the restaurants, the hoteliers and the retailers, this is a very good event. And the fact that we’ve had just a little bit of a break after the Labor Day weekend, I think everyone will be ready to come out and play again.”
And, even with some changes because of the pandemic still in place, Macon said DAC keeps the festival safe and offers a sense of fun and normalcy for patrons, artists and DAC staff members.
“We managed to do it last year. Even though we were in the very beginning of the pandemic, people still wanted to come out and shop and be part of the event and we got feedback from patrons and artists alike that it was the first sense of normalcy they’d had in months,” she said. “Being that it’s an outdoor event and we’re so careful about keeping everything socially distanced and safe and sanitized, everyone felt very safe. All of the Durango Arts Center staff and volunteers have been fully vaccinated. I think with all of those precautions in place, it’s an opportunity for us just to feel like we can go outside, enjoy being in the community again, do something that feels a little bit normal, shopping for one-of-a-kind gifts is a fun thing to do, thinking forward.”