Bennington Arts Weekend starts Friday

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BENNINGTON — Beer, artisan furniture — and belly dancing.

Those are just a few of the offerings at this year's Bennington Arts Weekend, coming up Friday through Sunday.

The weekend, begun in 2008 as a way to market the town's art and culture assets, is now a three-day event with multiple offerings, including two festivals — the 40th annual Southern Vermont Art and Craft Festival and the fourth annual 4 Corners North Homebrew Festival — along with First Friday in downtown Bennington.

"It's a great economic boost," said Charley Dooley, who organizes the art and craft festival. "It brings a lot of people into town."

Dooley referred to the art and craft festival as the "anchor store" of the Bennington Arts Weekend.

The art and craft festival features over 125 exhibitors, ranging from art, painting, photography and sculpture to leather, textile, glass and furniture makers, along with a large food market, according to a press release from the Bennington Area of Chamber of Commerce.

There's a lot more competition for festivals nowadays, as the internet allows many people to purchase specialty goods online, Dooley said.

But festivals still have their draws.

"To meet the artists," he said. "Hear their stories, get to know them personally. And it's fun."

The art and craft festival is open Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Camelot Village on Route 9.

To draw more business on Friday — typically the slowest day — discounted adult admission tickets will be available at the gate for $5. Tickets for adults are $8 per day for Saturday or Sunday; passes for both days are $10, according to the event page at craftproducers.com. Tickets for Saturday, Sunday and both days can be purchased on the website.

Items for sale at the festival can vary dramatically in price, but many are under $100, Dooley said.

Overlapping with the craft festival is the 4 Corners North Homebrew Festival from noon to 3:30 p.m. Saturday — a block festival on County Street between North Street and School Street.

"We have a rich and vibrant home brewing community here," said William Gardner, who organizes the festival. "Homebrewers, unfortunately, don't get much chance to showcase their brews."

The family-friendly festival provides something for enthusiasts and producers alike, he said.

Attendees can sample the wares, and homebrewers get valuable feedback, as many people attending have traditionally been craft beer fans, he said.

"This is real, honest, feedback," he said. "And it's camaraderie."

The festival hosts about 30 homebrewers. It will also feature a local bellydancing group and live music.

Tickets to sample the wares are $27, plus an about-$3 fee, if purchased online through EventBrite or the event website, 4cnhomebrewfest.com.

Tickets purchased at the event will be $30.

A combination ticket for the homebrew festival and one day of the art and craft festival are available at the homebrew festival for $30, or online for $30, plus a $3.72 fee.

The combination ticket can be purchased at both the homebrew festival website and craftproducers.com.

Free shuttle service will also be available between the two festivals from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday.

Both festivals are also free for children.

Patricia LeBoeuf can be reached at pleboeuf@benningtonbanner.com, at @BEN_pleboeuf on Twitter and 802-447-7567, ext. 118.


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