News

2021 Krasl Art Fair on the Bluff planning in full swing with community leadership

Krasl Art Center (KAC) is pleased to host the 2021 Krasl Art Fair on the Bluff in person on Saturday, July 10, and Sunday, July 11. Safety precautions will be in place to keep our vibrant community of artists, patrons, and event supporters safe in ever-changing times.

In 1962, a small handful of local artists held a clothesline art exhibition along scenic Lake Bluff Park in St. Joseph, Michigan. Those artists then formed the St. Joseph Art Association which, in 1979, through the beneficence of George and Olga Krasl, built Krasl Art Center. Over the years, the fair became one of the top-ranked juried art fairs in the nation and grew to become one of the peak summer events in southwest Michigan. When the COVID-19 Pandemic took hold in 2020, the fair paused for the safety of the 50,000 visitors, 200 artists, 500+ community volunteers, and our local neighbors.

Following recommendations from a community Task Force in January and February, KAC’s board of directors unanimously voted in support of planning this year’s fair. The 2021 Art Fair received approval from the City Commission in late February. With numerous changes underfoot, Krasl Art Center has brought a Volunteer Chair, Gayle Olson, and Co-Chair, Heather Shelby, to the helm to help guide this year’s event plans.

Gayle Olson is the semi-retired Board Chair of WSJM, Inc., Mid-West Family’s Michigan company, operating radio stations, digital products, and events in Southwest Michigan and South Bend, Indiana. Olson has been in the broadcasting, advertising, marketing, and events business for 49 years. He is the founder of Smooth Jazz at Sunset, an annual concert at Silver Beach typically on Art Fair weekend, as well as the Y-Country Summer Jam. For over 20 years, Olson was the Entertainment Chair of the Venetian Festival, bringing national music headliners to St. Joseph every Summer.

Heather Shelby brings 20 years of experience, professionalism, and skills as an artist, educator, and entrepreneur to her volunteer position as Co-Chair. She looks forward to supporting KAC’s team of volunteers to see the 2021 Art Fair come to fruition safely.

Together the two will help to guide the event, keeping the health and wealth of the community, the business sector, and artists at the forefront of planning.

Julia Gourley Donohue, KAC Executive Director, states:

We are grateful to the community for their many years of support for this beloved event. From considering plans for 2021 to approval, and now as we finalize how to implement plans, we remain fortunate to have the leadership of many volunteers who will help ensure a successful and safe event this year.
The new, advance timed ticketing plan will enable us to keep crowd sizes down for safety and in accordance with Executive Orders. Admission fees support expenses associated with planning the Art Fair and Krasl Art Center’s year-round free to all gallery and outdoor sculpture exhibitions.
We can’t wait to see our masked-up patrons once again shopping with living, working artists at the Krasl Art Fair on the Bluff”

What to expect for the 2021 Krasl Art Fair on the Bluff:

All guests are asked to secure a timed ticket in advance.
Tickets are $5 per person age 2 and older and free for those under 2. Tickets will be available online mid-May.
To manage attendance size, a limited number of timed tickets will be available for each time slot.
Gated event. Lake Bluff Park will be gated to the north and to the south of Broad Street.
Cloth or paper masks are required for all guests, volunteers, artists, and KAC staff age 2 and up.
Increased hand sanitizing stations.
Artist vendors only (In lieu of a food court, guests are encouraged to explore local restaurants in downtown Benton Harbor and St. Joseph during their visit).
KAC hopes to see the return of the Block Party, shuttled parking, and food vendors for the 60th anniversary Art Fair in 2022.

Stay up-to-date on decisions for this year’s event and learn other ways you can volunteer by signing up for email updates* at krasl.org/art-fair/event-information/

Berrien County Prosecutor Steve Pierangeli offered the following on the art fair:

“The Prosecutor’s Office has been in discussions with Krasl Art Center about the annual summer Art Fair. We believe the Art Fair can take place in compliance with current MDHHS orders and ensure the safety of visitors at this amazing event. Our community can use as much positivity and light as possible these days. The Art Fair helps our entire community achieve that.“

Planning the art fair is a year-round process for Krasl Art Center’s staff and community volunteers. Artists apply in October and are juried into the fair mid-February. In 2020, artists had already been juried in and accepted to the fair before shelter-in-place orders were given. Upon cancellation, all 2020 artists’ booth fees were returned. This year’s event will feature those artists who were previously accepted through the 2020 Jury process.

*Please note: the sign-up link has been recently updated after discovering an error in KAC’s software.

Editors Note – These changes bring many questions within our community. Krasl Art Center is committed to providing as much information as possible to the public, and we appreciate your assistance in sharing our message. Please send all media inquiries to Marketing and Events Manager, Matthew Bizoe at marketing@krasl.org. More information about the event – including a sign-up for dedicated art fair updates – can be found at krasl.org.