Skunk Run tradition to reveal new stripe

— This weekend marks the return of Ottawa's annual Skunk Run arts and crafts festival, a tradition of more than 25 years. This year's festival also coincides with another event: the 25th anniversary of the Ottawa Community Arts Council.

To commemorate the milestone, the council is presenting an exhibition in the Carnegie Cultural Center, 501 S. Main St., highlighting the work of some of the many area artists who have contributed to Skunk Run in the past quarter-century.

The annual arts and crafts festival takes place from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday at Ottawa City Park, except where otherwise indicated.Saturday¢ Live entertainment at the park gazebo throughout day¢ 9 a.m.-5 p.m.: Artists Row, juried art¢ 10 a.m.-5 p.m., quilt show, Ottawa Middle School, 13th and Ash streets¢ 11 a.m.: Optimist boat race¢ 2 p.m.: Optimist duck race¢ 6 p.m.: Mariachi band¢ 7:30 p.m.: Local theater troupe ACT OttawaSunday¢ Live entertainment at the park gazebo throughout the day¢ 10 a.m.-5 p.m., quilt show, Ottawa Middle School, 13th and Ash streets¢ 2 p.m.: Miniature quilt auction at Ottawa Middle School

Lawrence artists Robert Sudlow, Wayne Wildcat and John Gladman all are past participants whose work will be featured in the retrospective.

The festival itself has undergone something of an overhaul this year, said Murray McGee, Skunk Run co-chairman.

"We're trying to bring it back and make it more of a community, hometown-type festival again," McGee said.

Changes include a new layout for the festival. In the past many of the festival's booths and food vendors had been clumped together in one area. McGee said this year's event planners had spread the festival through more of the park.

The overall feel of the festival will be different as well. McGee said planners cut exhibitors' fees and added more events for children, including a chalk art contest and a special KidZone.

Deb Barker, of the Ottawa Historical Society, said the festival began as a book sale. Later, organizers added an art sale and, 19 years ago, the quilt show.

"That's the Johnny-come-lately of the festival," Barker said of the quilt show.

Thousands of people attend the festival each year, and McGee said he expected the event to pull in similar numbers this year.

"It's a festive atmosphere," he said. "It's a family-oriented event. There's arts and crafts and entertainment. And I think this year the kids activities will (bring people in), too."

Other events at Skunk Run this year include the Ottawa Optimists boat race and duck race, a quilt show and a charity dunk tank, featuring Ottawa's police chief and a city commissioner, among others.

The Ottawa Art Guild will have a juried art show at 2 p.m. Saturday at "Artists Row," and there will be special entertainment that night, featuring a mariachi band and a performance of past vignettes by local theater troupe ACT Ottawa.


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