Festival of the Senses mixes arts and history

By: Nico Rubello | C&G Newspapers | Published September 27, 2012

 Rosco the Clown and his “hot dog” lead the first-ever Festival of the Senses dog parade. The parade was followed by a contest, in which dogs were awarded prizes.

Rosco the Clown and his “hot dog” lead the first-ever Festival of the Senses dog parade. The parade was followed by a contest, in which dogs were awarded prizes.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

CLINTON TOWNSHIP — With the aromas of food and scented candles hanging in the air, the sounds of live music and the eclectic sights of art abundant at every turn, Clinton Township’s sixth annual Festival of the Senses was in full swing on Sept. 22 and 23.

Organizers said this year’s festival, held at the Civic Center grounds, near Romeo Plank and Canal roads, featured the work of 110 artists selling a wide variety of wares. The number of artist booths increased slightly over last year.

“So many are returning artists, and we’re kind of proud of that,” said Joe Peruzzi, a member of the Festival of the Senses’ organizing committee.

The festival is put on entirely through the work of volunteers and through the support of local businesses, so no tax dollars are used.

As usual, the festival donated proceeds to local charities, including Macomb Literacy Partners’ Read to Me program, Charity Music Inc. and the Warren Concert Band’s scholarship fund.

For many artists, the Festival of the Senses marks a late-season chance to showcase and sell their artwork.

A festival committee vets each of the artists admitted into the festival and accepts artwork in a variety of mediums: books, ceramics, glass, floral art, jewelry, metal works, mixed media, photography, painting, sculpture, stone, stained-glass, textiles, wood and children’s crafts.

“I want people to come here and feel like they can find something nice, but in a reasonable price range,” said Mary Ann Hosey, chairperson of the Festival of the Senses committee.

Work from local artists and high school students hung on the nearby fencing surrounding Resurrection Cemetery.

For those who were hungry, Rojo Mexican Bistro and Vince and Joe’s Gourmet Markets were selling food, as were concession stands located throughout.

The Festival of the Senses mixed not only artistic mediums, but also featured activities for adults and children.

For children, there was Rosco the Clown, facepainting and a “musical petting zoo” put on by Charity Music Inc., which gave youngsters a hands-on chance to try out different instruments.

There was also a steady lineup of live entertainment and musical acts, all of whom donated their time to the festival free of charge.

Meanwhile, a vintage base ball team, the Mount Clemens Regulars, showed people how America’s pastime was played in 1864.

Also in the vein of historical activities, representatives from Clinton Township’s historical societies were giving people a flavor for life in the 19th century with demonstrations on such things as blacksmithing and old-timey games. The Williams Log Cabin, which is located on the grounds year-round, was open to the public, as well.

Clinton Township resident Connie Gildersleeve attends the fine arts festival every year.

“It’s getting bigger each year and nicer each year. There’s a lot of new artists here, a lot of new vendors, which is nice,” she said. “I love that they incorporated dogs this year.”

This year, for the first time ever, the festival kicked off with a dog parade and contest, which were hosted in conjunction with the Macomb Community College Veterinary Technician Program and Parkway Small Animal and Exotic Hospital.

The dog events garnered more than 100 dogs in three weight categories: best costume, best behaved and owner look-alikes. Winners took home gift baskets, and the $5 registration fee raised more than $500 for the Every Animal Rescue League and the MCC Veterinary Technician Program’s kitten-raising initiative.

Some attendees said they came to the festival for the first time this year because of the dog parade and contest, but stayed to check out the rest of the festival.

“(The dog events) generated a lot of electricity, a lot of excitement,” Hosey said.

Hosey added that while the Festival of the Senses has grown slightly from previous years, she wants to keep it a manageable community event.

“I want everyone to feel comfortable here, and I want there to be the nice blend of activities and events that we have going on,” she said.