(WJET/WFXP/YourErie.com) — It will be a casual event with live music and artists mingling with patrons — and beer.
The Arts and Drafts Fest is returning again to The Brewerie at Union Station. The event has been hampered in the past couple of years due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but now it’s returning to its former glory for the fall.
It will be held Thursday, Sept. 8 through Saturday, Sept. 10. Everything will kick off at noon each day. The festivities will wrap up at 10 p.m. on Thursday and 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. The Brewerie at Union Station is at 123 W. 14th St. in Erie.
Both Friday and Saturday will have a $5 cover charge after 8 p.m. Thursday has no cover charge.
“Every day is a little bit different. It will have different music, and different artwork — some of the artwork sells and some new artwork comes in. Each day has the feel of coming into an opening day,” said Amanda Ferguson. “A lot of people come back all three days.”
Ferguson is the event coordinator. In 2014, she took over coordinating the event for her best friend Drew Kauffman when he moved to Vermont. He later died of cancer.
“Drew Kauffman’s vision for the event was to say a thank-you to all the artists and musicians for giving us something to do — whether that’s seeing your favorite band or going to your favorite gallery to see works by your favorite artists,” Ferguson said. The Arts and Drafts Fest this year has 15 bands and more than 70 artists lined up. “When it comes to Eight Great Tuesdays or the Block Parties, there are the bands that are there.”
The featured artist of the upcoming Arts and Drafts Fest is Robert Jensen.
“I am so excited to show off a ton of new sculptures and other fine crafts as a fresh body of work,” Jensen said in a supplied bio. His work can be seen at www.robertjensen.info and on TikTok as “bluntguts814.”
Thursday’s music includes Maroon River, Dirty Leaf, Fog Giant, and Hard Luck Story. Friday’s music is Trace the Pattern, Royek, Dumpster Garden, Penny Racer, Grim Grin, and Odd Atrocity. Saturday’s music is Performance Software, Spades, Wasted Info, Half Glass, and Tiny Paper Boats.
Nick Warren has been the Arts and Drafts Fest music organizer since 2018 (he took over for Justin Tapper).
“This year, I really tried to push new acts and up-and-coming acts and people who aren’t regularly gigging musicians — people that don’t play every month or let alone every week,” Warren said. “It was a lot of fun. We have a lot of new people on the bill this time around.”
That’s keeping to the overall event mission of spotlighting local art and music.
“We want to champion the people that are out there working hard that might not be the names that you most quickly associate with art and music in Erie, but they will probably be some of the next names you hear a few years from now,” Warren said.
Overall, Ferguson said her favorite part of the event is the “atmosphere.” The event is family friendly.
“You get to meet a lot of the artists. A lot of the public loves getting to meet their favorite artists. When you go to galleries, you don’t usually get to meet the artists. It’s exciting to see their faces and have a conversation,” Ferguson said.
The festival traditionally has been held twice per year, in the spring and fall. Given the pandemic, organizers have focused most of their attention on the fall festival. The overall vision or mission, however, has not been lost from the event. The art and music is still centerstage. The artists have an opportunity to showcase their work to gallery owners and art connoisseurs.
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“It’s just a beautiful thing to celebrate them and thank them for us having a great time,” Ferguson said. “The festival is to celebrate the hard work of these musicians and artists who barely ask for nothing. It’s definitely a great honor to be able to work with these beautiful people.”