RochesterSeptember 5, 2012
PCCA brings Art & Apples Festival to Rochester
By Mary Beth Almond
C & G Staff Writer
ROCHESTER — Many people don’t realize that a group of seven staff members from the Paint Creek Center for the Arts essentially organizes and conducts the annual Art & Apples Festival, Michigan’s second largest juried fine arts festival.
“One of the comments that we always get — from both the artists and the general public — is about what a well-organized, friendly festival it is, and we really take great pride in that,” PCCA Executive Director Suzanne Wiggins said.
The Art & Apples Festival — held this weekend — consistently is ranked in the top 30 art festivals of its kind in the nation by Sunshine Artist Magazine, out of a list of more than 2,000 that are reviewed, according to Wiggins.
This year, the festival jumped up two spots from last year’s ranking and was the named 27th best in the country.
“Our ranking is very consistent and has been moving up the chart, whereas a lot of the Michigan festivals have been sliding down in rankings,” Wiggins noted.
A look back in time
Although the Art & Apples Festival has been around for 47 years, many in the community have no idea that it’s a program of Paint Creek Center for the Arts, Wiggins said.
“It’s our largest program of the year, our largest source of earned revenue, and it basically represents almost half of our operating budget for the year. Without the festival, we would probably struggle to keep the doors open and do all the other wonderful things that we do — like our year-round art school and our exhibition season and our Arts & Cultural Awards program. We really depend on the festival, and I think the community looks forward to it every year, as well,” she said.
In fact, Wiggins said PCCA, which is celebrating its 30th anniversary in November, actually exists because of the Art & Apples Festival.
“The festival is what brought Paint Creek Center for the Arts into fruition physically in 1982. We continue to keep the festival alive and growing because it’s such an integral part of our organization and the history of where we evolved from,” she said.
Back in the early 1960s, she said, a group of community residents and artists came together after seeing the outdoor art festivals happening in Pontiac and Bloomfield Hills and thought that Rochester would make a perfect venue.
“They started talking with the City Council and created a nonprofit organization called the Rochester Arts Commission as a mechanism for organizing the very first Art & Apples Festival, which took place in 1965,” she said.
What is now Rochester Municipal Park was an empty meadow behind the city offices at the time of the first festival, according to old newspaper articles.
“The group actually came to the City Council with plans for how to create a festival environment in the meadow. They just used one great big huge circus tent, and everything was located under it. It definitely evolved from there,” Wiggins said.
Seventeen years after the first Art & Apples Festival, the group decided to create a year-round art organization using money collected from the festival.
“They had needs for a physical space for storing things for the festival, but they really wanted to make sure that arts and culture were a focal point of the Rochester community,” Wiggins said.
When Avon Township — which evolved into Rochester Hills when it incorporated into a city — left what is now the PCCA building to build the current Rochester Hills City Hall, the commission jumped on the opportunity to lease the facility.
“The building was available, so the same group of volunteers came in and did some renovations on the building. They were really thoughtful about the name of the building, because they didn’t want it to just represent one municipality. After a lot of thinking they decided to call it Paint Creek Center for the Arts,” Wiggins said.
Since November 1982, when, Wiggins said, the commission really got the center up and going, the building has remained PCCA. The organization continued as the Rochester Arts Commission until 1986, when, Wiggins said, members decided to rename the organization Paint Creek Center for the Arts, so the facility and the organization would be uniform.
The 47th annual Art & Apples Festival
This year’s Art and Apples Festival will be held 4-7:30 p.m. Sept. 7, 9 a.m.-7:30 p.m. Sept. 8 and 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Sept. 9 in Rochester Municipal Park, west of Main Street, north of University.
Those who attend are asked to give a voluntary, but suggested, $5 donation upon entry. Wiggins said there is a lot of confusion about that within the community.
Because the PCCA’s mission is to serve the community at large, as well as the artistic community, the organization doesn’t take any commission from the sales that its exhibiting artists gain during the festival weekend. Instead, Wiggins said, they ask those who attend the festival for a donation of $5 per person.
“I think that people have this misconception that almost everybody gives, when it’s really less than a quarter of our visitors who give a donation at the gate. The money basically helps us to operate our programs year-round. It helps us not have to depend on earning money off the artists at the festival, who are making a living by selling their art,” she added.
Because the PCCA depends on other local nonprofits to help volunteer to take donations at festival entrance points, she said, the PCCA gives 5 percent of all of the donations to the nonprofits that volunteer to accept donations at the gates — including the Rochester Area Jaycees, the Rochester High School Band Boosters, Oakland University’s Student Michigan Education Association and the swim boosters from Rochester High School.
“They are all very worthy nonprofits that are trying to raise money for a great mission in their own right, so every time someone comes through and gives a donation, it’s not only supporting Paint Creek, it’s supporting other nonprofits in the community,” she added.
Fine art, entertainment, and food
Organizers say more than 290 of the finest artists from across the nation will tempt art enthusiasts with unique works in a variety of mediums, including textiles, paintings, glasswork, wood, pottery, jewelry, photography, sculpture and more.
As it’s a juried show, professional artists determine who makes it into the popular festival each year.
After perusing the art, parents can let their children unwind at the popular — and free — Kids Art Zone, which offers make-and-take projects provided by the PCCA and the Detroit Institute of Arts, a life-size art maze, giant inflatables, and the Oakland County Parks and Recreation Rock climbing wall.
Nonstop live entertainment will be provided from 4 p.m. Friday through 4 p.m. Sunday featuring Rochester-area high school bands, Chila Dogs, Deborah’s Stage Door, School of Rock, Flint Jubilee Choral, Oakland University Vitality Dance and The Marvins.
The festival will also feature baking contests for the best apple pie and best apple dessert Saturday at 11:30 a.m.
Festival attendees can help show support for the PCCA and other local nonprofits by purchasing food. Twenty percent of the proceeds from food ticket sales goes back to the PCCA — the rest goes to the food vendors. Wiggins noted there are five or six local nonprofits that serve as food vendors within the festival — including the Rochester Junior Women’s Club, the Rochester Kiwanis Club and Boy Scout Troop 125.
Cristina Riha, who is coordinating Boy Scout Troop 125’s homemade apple pie fundraiser at Art & Apples this year, said the troop sells homemade pies to help pay for all their achievements and advances for the year, such as sending the boys to camps or helping them achieve their badges. This year, the Boy Scouts will not be in their typical spot in the food court; they will sell pies for $15 each in a tent just outside the brick building near the pond and the tennis courts all day Saturday and Sunday.
Riha said the apple pie fundraiser is the troop’s main fundraiser of the year, so they really depend on the funds.
“Everything revolves around this fundraiser. This is our big one for the boys. Every kid is involved, either baking, cleaning or selling,” she said. “It’s for such a great cause, and the pies are fabulous. We make everything from scratch.”
Shuttles to Art & Apples are available at Rochester High School all day Saturday and Sunday.
For more information, visit www.artandapples.com.
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