Auburn CityFest celebrating 20 years

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PHOTO CONTRIBUTED BY CITY OF AUBURN

By Hannah Lester
hlester@opelikaobserver.com

Auburn CityFest is celebrating its 20th year — and returning to its roots — an arts and crafts festival.

Ann Bergman, coordinator for CityFest, said that the goal is to keep CityFest this year true to what it was created to be.

This means there will be over 50 arts and crafts vendors in Kissel Park on April 24 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m for the “Loveliest Arts Village On The Plains”.

“To be an Auburn CityFest vendor, you have to have hand-crafted items, no by sale items,” Bergman said. “So, all of our artists, they vary from, oh some beautiful hand-made jewelry. We’ll have more than a few ceramics people there. We’ll have people that have created their own t-shirts … We’ll have people that have paintings. We have people there that have their own books that they’ve published. We will have metal; we also have a man that handcrafts cutting boards. We also have a man there that just handcrafts wooden toys for children.”

One local potter, Amy Kaiser of Bird in Hand Pottery, has been a part of CityFest for 10 years.

“Initially encouraged by a fellow potter to join her at her booth, I’ve been delighted every year with the comments about my work from CityFest attendees, as well as the purchases they make,” she said.
CityFest started as a small city event, just a few vendors. But now, there will be over 50, Bergman said. There will be a lot of food options too — 15 vendors — including Reggie’s Famous Polish Sausage, Butcher Paper Barbecue, Greek food, Mexican food, funnel cakes and more.

Vendors will spaced 6 feet apart, with some spaced 12 feet apart, Bergman said, to ensure social distancing.

“That’s just going to give everybody the room they need to shop and just make sure everyone can distance from each other,” she said.

Last year’s CityFest was canceled because of COVID-19.

“Although scaled down a bit, CityFest will still be a warm and welcoming event with food, art, crafts, family entertainment and music,” Kaiser said. “I’m looking forward to seeing folks come out for a joyful outdoor visit to Kiesel Park to celebrate spring, family fun and community.”

Live music will be presented throughout the day, including the Plainsman Percussion group and the Auburn Community Orchestra, among others.

“I just love it that there’s so many people there, and they normally wouldn’t see a full orchestra perform,” Bergman said.

This is an event for both adults and children. Normally, in a non-COVID year, children would get to make their own crafts. However, to ensure safety, children will instead be given craft kits inside the children’s art fest tent, Bergman said.

“The Kreher Preserve will be there, they always bring some lovely little critters,” she said. “… like snakes and lizards.”

The SouthEastern Raptor Center will also bring birds, since scaly animals aren’t everyone’s cup of tea. But most people love dogs, and the headliner for the event is the Alabama Air Dogs.

The event runs all day from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., so don’t worry about missing out.

“The number of people who come to CityFest is always impressive,” Kaiser said. “The event has the feel of an enormous family gathering or homecoming with a vibrant, festive, relaxed atmosphere.

In past years CityFest has included nonprofits, inflatables for children, pony rides and a rock climbing wall.

“We really are going old school, we’re going back to just a lovely arts and crafts festival,” Bergman said. “Just like CityFest started, as just an arts and crafts festival in one of our parks.”

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