ROCHESTER — Despite a few sprinkles, crowds filled Rochester Municipal Park last weekend for the Paint Creek Center for the Arts’ 48th annual Art & Apples Festival.
The festival opened Friday, Sept. 7, with sunny weather, and the fun continued throughout the weekend — despite afternoon sprinkles on Saturday — allowing the public to hunt for fine art, enjoy some lunch or dinner, and be entertained by a variety of performers.
Overall, Festival Director Laura Bates said, the event was a success.
“It was really great. Friday was busier than I’ve ever seen Friday in my years here. It was as crazy as we typically have it on Saturday and Sunday, which was really exciting because it’s usually a slower day for us, being that it’s short,” she said. “We had a little bit of rain on Saturday, but the crowd stuck around for the most part, so that definitely told us it was a good show. … People just put up their umbrellas and stuck around.”
More than 290 artists from across the nation tempted art enthusiasts with unique works in a variety of mediums, including textiles, painting, glass, wood, pottery, jewelry, photography, sculpture and more throughout the three-day festival.
This was the first festival appearance for Orlando, Fla., photographer Bernard Blekfeld of Bernard Blekfeld Photography, who displayed a number of colorful images from Italy and France shot on film.
Blekfeld heard about the show from a friend, who exhibits his work at the festival regularly, and Blekfeld decided to give it a go this year.
“I’ve been doing shows for 25 years, and usually in May and September, I’m overseas shooting new work, so I just decided to take this September off and try a couple shows,” he said.
On Saturday, Blekfeld said he was pleased with the festival turnout thus far.
“It’s a little slow this morning, but yesterday was surprisingly good for a Friday afternoon,” he said.
Before the rain came down on Saturday afternoon, Brian and Judy Jackson, of Ortonville, were happily perusing artwork during their third annual festival visit.
“The weather is beautiful, and there are a lot of people here,” Judy Jackson said. “I love looking at the beautiful colors of the art. I really envy people’s talent.”
While Judy Jackson was drawn to the woodwork this year, her husband said he enjoyed looking at the metal sculptures and the paintings.
“Usually, there is something we see that we just have to get. It just pops out,” Brian Jackson said. “There is a huge variety of different kinds of artwork, and it’s really neat to look at it all in one place, especially on a gorgeous day like today.”
Anna Biliti, who ran the apple pie and apple dessert baking contests for the PCCA on Saturday, said this year’s contest really put the apple in the Art & Apples Festival.
“It went well. Everybody was enthusiastic,” she said. “It was lot of fun.”
This year’s panel of judges included Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson, Rochester Hills Mayor Bryan Barnett, FOX 2 news personalities Jason Carr and Taryn Asher, Blue Care Network CEO Kevin Klobucar, Royal Park Hotel pastry chef Mark Slessor, and Miss Michigan 2009 Lindsey Tycholiz.
In the end, Lake Orion resident Judith Finnernen’s “Delicious Crumb Top Apple Pie” came out on top in the pie contest — which included eight pies — followed by Clarkston resident Kim Neal’s “Original Apple Pie” and Rochester Hills resident Cheryl Zaranek’s “Back to Basics Apple Pie.”
“The judges seemed to like just the plain apple pies,” Biliti said.
In the apple dessert contest, Lapeer resident Michael Onweller’s “Apple Yum Yum” placed first — out of five desserts — followed by Bloomfield Hills residents Pam and Julie Ritter’s “Apple Brownies” and Rochester Hills resident Preethi Yadlapalli’s “Healthy Apple Pudding.”
“The ‘Apple Yum Yum’ looked like an upside-down cake almost. The judges said it was very moist, had a nice presentation, good consistency, was sweet but not too sweet, and had very good flavor,” Biliti said.
After the winners were announced, the public was invited to purchase samples of all of the entries.
“People especially wanted to buy samples of the first-place winners, which tend to go really fast,” Biliti said. “They were gone in about five minutes.”
On Sunday, six artists showing at the 2013 Art and Apples won awards for their work. A new festival participant, 2-D mixed media artist Dan Bi, of Markham, Ontario, snapped up the $1,500 cash prize for the Best in Show award. A second new festival participant, 3-D mixed media artist Raymond Papka, took home $500 for an Award of Excellence, as did returning festival participants 2-D mixed media artist Marie-Helene Grabman, wood artist Keith Kinney, photographer James Parker and metal jewelry artist Robert Trisko.
Bates thanked the more-than 200 volunteers from the community, the festival’s many corporate sponsors, the vendors, and the PCCA board and staff for their help and support.
“We can’t do it without them. They are really important to us,” she said.