When fall rolls around and I'm taking stock of how well I lived my summer, one of the requisite measures is attendance at at least one arts festival where I could afford to indulge in something stylish and well-made without having to defend it to my husband. I also have to be able to take the children and the dog and be able to sustain them all without someone's breaking something or ruining my leisure with declarations of boredom.
The Ketchum Arts Festival is one of those events. Starting Friday, July 13, at Festival Meadows across from the Sun Valley barn on Sun Valley Road and continuing through Sunday, July 15 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., the festival is not just great art, but options that are attainable, usable and unusual, often all in one. There is also a kids activity area every day from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. with guided art projects to keep the little ones engaged. And this is not just a finger painting outing. This is a well-choreographed art excursion. Kids will bring home things worth keeping, and perhaps an interest in art itself.
That's just what the founders were thinking 13 years ago when they started small in a spot in Giacobbi Square in Ketchum with the goal of showcasing Blaine County artists of all make and model. It continued to grow and now is open to Idaho artists with items not made by any locals.
Perhaps the most common reason to come to the festival is the quality and range of the artists' wares for sale. The eclectic selection offers both high-end sophisticated art works by full-blown professionals and affordable art and crafts by emerging artists. For example, the woodworking ranges widely, from fine quality inlaid furniture to whimsical sculpture to hand-painted flea market finds to birdhouses covered in seed mosaics. There is a museum's worth of paintings and photographs from well-known artists, a pirate's hoard of jewelry and ceramics of all varieties, plus clothing, hats, cats and floor mats.
Among this year's locals participating for the first time are mixed-media artist Nancy Gervais, Nolina Burge and Cliff Frates; local painters Beth Magee, Mary Stratton, Barry Welker, Nowel Pawliw, and Christine Warjone; local potions from GMA Honey's Healing Salve and Alison Rosen's Sun Valley Remedies. New jewelers from the area are Tammy Schofield, Jennifer Goitiandia, Liesel Pawliw and Julie Molema, and there are two new photographers, Anne Jeffrey and Sue Dumke. The Brown Drake will be there with handmade bags and Shirley Hobbs will offer fiber-and-needle arts.
Braden Jon Anderson is new to the festival this year bringing artful terrariums. The conceptual artist has exhibited his work in his hometown of Boise and in Los Angeles. Now he will share some of his hobby and passion while living in Sun Valley.
"This valley represents a culmination of element and spirit," Anderson said. "There is a promising ecosystem here."
Explaining how that impacts his work, he said, "The terrestrial kingdom lives within a terrarium. In a terrarium, all the elements unite in harmony within a personal artistic garden ecosystem."
Anderson's terrariums range from small, intimate plantscapes and personalized elemental showcases to living ecosystems. Composed of plants, rocks, shells, branches, bones, gems, incense, feathers and ornaments, each creation captures the imagination of any viewer.
For the festival-goer, the Ketchum Arts Festival has lots of positives. In addition to the beautiful setting, it's just off the bike path, marked by Sally Kern's colorful flags. If you drive in, there is ample parking.
In between art strolls, linger in the shade under the big, yellow-striped tent and groove to local musicians like the Kim Stocking Band, sample festival food from local chefs, sip a fresh-blended coffee smoothie or savor a microbrew from Sun Valley Brewery as the sun drops toward Baldy.
For more information, a look at the Festival Guide with all the artists and a map, visit
When: Friday, July 13, through Sunday, July 15, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Where: Festival Meadows, Sun Valley Road, Sun Valley.
What: The wares of more than 100 artists and craft makers, local chefs and brew-meisters will be spread out for people to shop and sample, and local musicians will be picking in the background. Kids will have their own activity area from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily. Dogs are welcome as long as their owners hold their leashes.