Now in its 36th annual year, Art on the Bay is such an established fixture on the summer calendar that it draws many returning vendors as well those wanting to participate for the first time because of having heard positive feedback about the two-day show.
This year's Art on the Bay, just as in all years past, is sponsored by Thunder Bay Arts Council and will coincide with one weekend of the Michigan Brown Trout Festival. The perennially popular fine arts and crafts show is slated for July 14 from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. and July 15 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in Bay View Park.
Nancy Piatek of East Jordan falls into the category of those artisans or crafters coming to Alpena for the first time.
Pottery by Nancy Piatek of East Jordan
"I had heard about the show, so I thought I would try it out. I was told it was a really nice show and is held by the water," said Piatek, who creates wheel-thrown, coiled or slabbed clay birdbaths, bird feeders and other decorative or functional pieces.
Art on the Bay is one of 11 shows Piatek will be doing throughout the summer. She's been making and selling her pottery for the last 20 years, ever since she and her husband decided to give up their corporate jobs in advertising and concentrate on her art full-time.
Piatek's most popular item is her butterfly feeders.
"Many people didn't know you could feed butterflies. They eat basically the same solution as hummingbirds," she said. "If you go to a butterfly house, you'll find butterfly feeders tucked in among the foliage."
Piatek also creates ceramic fish, water fountains, scones, platters, sun faces, bowls, vases, recipe and business card holders. Her husband works alongside her in her studio, doing the metal work for her pieces. They split their time between Florida and Michigan, where they have constructed two houses.
"We set ourselves up," Piatek said. "We're not getting rich, but if you love what you do and want to do it, then it is worth it. By building our homes ourselves and keeping our expenses low, we are able to do it."
Unlike Piatek, Deb Nolan of Grayling has participated in Art on the Bay for many years.
"It draws a really good crowd, it seems to be a buying crowd and I have a lot of followers who coming looking for my work," said Nolan, who makes women's cardigans.
She has been stitching her T-shirts, cardigans, tank tops and hoodies for 32 years now, ever since she was layed off from her home economics teaching job back in the early 1980s. One of the techniques that makes her designs unique is free motion applique.
"I cut out my original designs in fabric and apply them to clothing using free motion quilting," Nolan said. "Instead of using a programmed stitch on the sewing machine, I set it on straight stitch and move the fabric around."
Among her most popular items are her button-up jackets, many of which feature her abstract designs of subjects like parrots or sea life.
Nolan splits her time between Michigan and Florida. Art in the Bay is just one of 40 arts and crafts show she is participating in this year.
According to Thunder Bay Arts Council representatives Karen McConnell and Cheryl Lemke, shoppers should expect to see the same amount if not more vendors at this year's arts and crafts show, and they will be offering pieces in just about every medium possible.
In addition to drawing both new and repeat vendors, the show also attracts participants for all around Michigan and several other states, including Florida, Missouri, Ohio and Utah.
"We're really excited for people coming to our little town from so far away," McConnell said.
"We must be doing something right that after 36 years people still want to return and new people want to get in from other states," Lemke said. "We think that's impressive."
Besides all of the booths selling unique arts and crafts, a Kid's Art Zone will be available for children to make and take craft items. A variety of food also will be offered on the grounds: roasted almonds, sandwiches, hamburgers, hotdogs, whitefish sandwiches, fries, ice cream, kettle corn and fudge.