Anacortes Arts Festival - August 5-7 2016 - Visit Skagit Valley - North Cascades National Park to Farmlands to Salish Sea

Anacortes Arts Festival – August 5-7 2016


anacortes-arts-festival-2016The Anacortes Arts and Crafts Festival, now the Anacortes Arts Festival, got its start in 1962 as the brain-child of Dr. Jack Papritz and a group of dedicated community arts patrons. The idea came from Dr. Papritz’s European travels, specifically the Parisienne Montmartre – a French open-air cafe.

With the support of the Anacortes Chamber of Commerce, and $300 in seed money, the first Anacortes Arts Festival in July of 1962 was billed as “the longest art display in the world.” In the 50 years since that simple beginning, the Festival has grown into one of the largest and most respected Festivals in the northwest.


In it’s early years, the main emphasis of the Festival was fine art in a festive atmosphere. There were judged pieces in both amateur and professional divisions, a youth art exhibit, and a venue for artists of all levels to display their work. Throughout its history, this commitment to art has remained constant and today is realized in the Art at the Port exhibition that showcases cutting edge northwest art through Invitational and Juried shows.

1983 Festival

Early entrepreneurs sold their arts and crafts in the street in a broad range of mediums – not so different from the juried artists who are still the bread and butter of the Festival. In the 60’s there was a designated “discovery gallery,” in which any artist could submit artwork to be hung on a clothesline and sold for either $1 or $5.

Another historical constant of the Festival has been entertainment. Originally it was a jazz venue at the local high school; today attendees need not leave the Festival thoroughfare to enjoy the four stages showcasing sounds from around the world and northwest jazz and blues.


As luck would have it, as the Festival was making a name for itself, so were early contributors. Several gained national prominence as the fathers of a “new” northwest style of art. Others were affiliated with museums and universities, keeping the Festival in touch with emerging art trends. Through the participation of many influential participants, the Anacortes Festival was quietly and unassumingly establishing a reputation in the northwest art scene.


As early as 1962, the Festival Board planned on taking income earned from commissions to purchase works to form a collection that would become a public asset used to promote the Festival mission. Thus, the Permanent Collection was born. For over 40 years, the permanent collection has continued to grow and currently includes 67 pieces. Through the insight of early planners and participation of talented artists, today the collection is a legacy of northwest talent, including works by Guy Anderson, Max Benjamin, Norman Lundin, Philip McCracken, Alden Mason, Philip Levine, Michael Dailey, and many others. The Board remains committed to building this collection through the yearly Purchase Award from Art at the Port exhibitions. While the bulk of the collection currently resides at the Festival office, in 1993 the Festival placed a large Max Benjamin piece at the new Anacortes Public Library, and plans are underway for additional pieces to rotate in the community. more…


Early DaysAnacortes Arts and Crafts Festival toddled through the early years with little money, dependent on the foresight and sweat of volunteers. For the first decade nearly every aspect of the Festival was volunteer – students built display racks, local organizations donated materials and manpower, non-profits sold food to festival-goers, community members distributed posters during their travels and a legion of volunteers set up, took down and administered all the aspects of the growing Festival.

Today, over 150 volunteers still act as local ambassadors and contribute their sweat to this large community event. Thirty-seven regional organizations now partner as Festival sponsors, enabling us to expand our activities and keep the entire weekend free of charge to the public. Ever cognizant of these important connections, we are the largest supporter of arts funding in our community, yearly giving back over $30,000 through our grant and award programs.


Changing our name to the Anacortes Arts Festival in the 90’s, the Festival Board remains committed to producing a first class Festival that showcases art in all its forms. As some things change, others remain vital to our identity – these things you will see scattered throughout our web site. We recognize the contributions of the many individuals and organizations who have formed the backbone of our continuing mission of supporting the arts in our community, and look forward to the continuing evolution of the Festival.