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 Glass artist Ian Zapico shows the UV light element in his Silica Robotica Series.

Glass artist Ian Zapico shows the UV light element in his Silica Robotica Series.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

Nearly 80,000 people fill Art and Apples Festival

By: Mary Beth Almond | Rochester Post | Published September 10, 2019

 Daniel Scheltema, of Macomb Township, looks on as daughter Isabella, 4, tries wheel throwing at the new Creation Station during the 2019 Art and Apples Festival Sept. 7

Daniel Scheltema, of Macomb Township, looks on as daughter Isabella, 4, tries wheel throwing at the new Creation Station during the 2019 Art and Apples Festival Sept. 7

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

ROCHESTER — Rochester Municipal Park’s 30 acres were packed to the brim last weekend for the Paint Creek Center for the Arts’ 54th annual Art and Apples Festival.

PCCA Executive Director Beth Chilton said it was a great weekend, adding that early estimates show the festival drew approximately 78,000-80,000 people.

“Everybody that I saw had a smiling face,” she said. “That really makes us happy, because we put so much work into this festival every year, and part of our goal is to ensure that we are providing a fun event for the people of this area. I think we achieved that this year.”

The Paint Creek Center for the Arts evolved from the Art and Apples Festival in 1983, the same year it took over the festival management. Since then, the center has continued to produce the annual event, which serves as the nonprofit’s largest annual fundraiser.

The festival opened two hours early on Friday, Sept. 6, during a new soft opening that drew more people than the PCCA staff had anticipated.

“It was packed at 2 p.m. on Friday, so I think that is something that we will probably be continuing going forward. We were excited to see how many people turned out,” Chilton said.

The fun continued throughout the weekend, allowing the public to be entertained by a variety of performers, watch live artist demonstrations, make some of their own creations and hunt for fine art.

Nearly 300 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.

Lampwork glass artist Patricia Venaleck, of Macomb Township, has been showing her jewelry — featuring handmade glass beads — at the festival for about 15 years.

“I just love Art and Apples,” she said on Saturday.

In between sales, Venaleck and her husband were handing out handcrafted glass beads to children and explaining how they were made to further promote an interest in the arts.

In the booth next door, Kenny Kudulis, of the company Kudu-lah, based in Tennessee, was sharing his original whimsical monster-like creatures. Kudulis sketches, paints and names all of the characters, while his wife, Jenifer, creates their individual bios.

“They are originally based on folks I saw riding the trains back when I lived in New York, at two or three o’clock in the morning, coming back from my work in scenic design in the theater,” he said.

This was Kudu-lah’s second time at the festival, and business was going well, according to Kudulis.

“It’s a nice setting, and there are gobs of people out today,” he said.  

Over at the festival’s new Creation Station, husband-and-wife ceramic artists Ryan Lack and Kelly Haehl, of Haehl Ceramics of Howell, were showing festival-goers how to throw tiny pots on one-of-a-kind small pottery wheels called “MiNi MAKRs.”

Lack said the festival traffic was steady on Saturday, with children and adults testing out the miniature wheels, designed by Lack.

“We’re trying to get people interested in clay, just feeling a different material, understanding what it is, and maybe appreciating something they wouldn’t normally appreciate,” Lack said.

Julie Fiebig, who grew up in Rochester but now lives in Sterling Heights, said she comes to the Art and Apples Festival every year.

“I just love looking at everything and I usually buy something, usually yard art,” she said.

This year, she brought her daughter, Taylor, who enjoyed testing out the tiny pottery wheel in the Creation Station.

“It’s so cool,” Taylor said as she molded the clay with her fingertips on the tiny wheel. “This is my favorite because I got to do it myself.”

Julie Fiebig said her daughter loves watching the artists create during the festival and loved the addition of the Creation Station, where people could make their own art.

“I think it’s really neat. We enjoyed watching the glass blowing this morning, and we couldn’t wait to come back and see the pottery this afternoon,” she said.

Chilton said the Manpower Creation Station — which allowed festivalgoers to pay to participate in hands-on art activities such as screen printing a souvenir bag, using a Shibori tie-dyeing technique to make a souvenir T-shirt, creating an acrylic tile or pouring a candle, and also to watch live glass blowing and ceramic wheel throwing demonstrations  — was well-attended.

“We think that it went really well for a first year, and we think that it will be even better next year,” Chilton said.

Genisys Credit Union was the festival’s presenting sponsor this year. For more information, visit