Kim Ellis traveled more than three and a half hours from her home just northwest of Richmond, Virginia, to spend her weekend meandering among the booths of about 330 artists Saturday at the Lazy Daze Arts and Crafts Festival in Cary.
John Schrock, an artist from Indiana, journeyed even farther to sell his pen, ink and watercolor scenes of the bars, restaurants and landmarks of cities throughout the country. His depictions of destinations in Raleigh and Durham are recent additions.
Forty years after Lazy Daze began with about 100 vendors on one block in downtown Cary, the festival, its reputation and level of professionalism have grown, and artists and art lovers alike have taken notice.
“A lot of people look forward to it,” said Diana Coidan, a Raleigh artist who has participated in the festival for the past 20 years.
This year marks the 40th anniversary of the nationally-recognized Cary event. It is the first time the festival, which will continue Sunday, will be held for more than one day.
Artists and visitors say the longer event gives people more of a chance to see what the hundreds of arts and crafts vendors from 16 states have to offer.
“It’s a lot of work,” said Marie Wright, a Pittsboro artist. “It’s like bringing a whole room someplace and setting it up, so if you are going to do it two days, it’s good.”
Some attendees said they found treasures, including Teresa Macleod of Raleigh, who purchased a painting on an old, reclaimed ceiling tile, and Ellis, who favored her beach prints.
I start my Christmas shopping here every year because I can find unique gifts that nobody seems to be able to find somewhere else. I always have a great time.
Kim Ellis of Richmond, Virginia
“I start my Christmas shopping here every year because I can find unique gifts that nobody seems to be able to find somewhere else,” said Ellis, who already had several bags in hand before 10 a.m. Saturday. “I always have a great time.”
Throughout the festival, visitors in large, brimmed hats fanned themselves with paper paddles, sipped cups of lemonade and enjoyed the sugary goodness of a vanilla ice cream cone to try to keep cool as the temperature spiked above 90 degrees before 11 a.m.
But the heat and humidity didn’t deter artists and art lovers.
“I don’t think it stopped people. It never has before,” said Cary artist Sarah Sheffield, recalling past years when the temperature approached 100 degrees. “Everybody always complains, but they come.”
Sheffield is this year’s featured artist and designed the artwork on the event poster. She depicted many Lazy Daze favorites in the piece, including the Town Crier John Webster who makes announcements, greets visitors and kicks off the festival every year.
Artists and visitors also praised the event’s location.
This is the second year in a row that the festival is at the Cary Town Hall Campus because of downtown streetscape construction. The festival usually is along South Academy Street from East Chatham Street to Dry Avenue and Chatham Street from South Harrison Avenue to Walker Street. Town staff will use participant feedback this year to determine the length and location of future events.
“There are so many ways people can see all the booths and go around versus one straight line on Academy Street and Chatham Street where people walk like zombies past you,” Coidan said. “It’s the best location they’ve ever had.”
Kathryn Trogdon: 919-460-2608: @KTrogdon
Want to go?
When: 12:30-5 p.m. Sunday. The event is rain or shine.
Where: Cary Town Hall Campus, 316 N. Academy St.
How to get there: Free shuttle starts at noon Sunday. The last buses leave the festival at 5:30 p.m. They leave from Cary Towne Center, 1105 Walnut St., and Green Hope High School, 2500 Carpenter Upchurch Road. Follow signs for the shuttle.
Parking: Public parking in downtown Cary is limited due to construction. The Cary Town Hall Parking Deck is reserved for vendors. Limited parking is available at the church parking lot at Waldo and Walker streets, across from First United Methodist Church of Cary; in the church parking lot of First Baptist Church, which is accessible from South Academy Street or South Harrison Avenue; or in the parking lot behind the Cary Arts Center. This lot is accessible by Faculty Street. Limited handicapped-accessible parking is in the Fire Department administration parking lot. Approach the lot via South Academy Street. Call 919-469-4061.
Street closings: The following are closed in and around Cary Town Hall Campus until 9 p.m. Sunday. Residents who live in these areas will be required to show a government-issued photo ID to access these areas by vehicle.
▪ North Academy Street from Chapel Hill Road to Chatham Street
▪ Ambassador Loop
▪ Cary Street
▪ Wilkinson Avenue
▪ Adams Street from North Harrison Avenue to North Academy Street
▪ Chapel Hill Road eastbound lane from Harrison Avenue and East Durham Road
Southbound traffic on Academy Street remains closed from Chatham Street to Park Street. For pedestrian access, the sidewalk along Academy Street will be open on the east side from Dry Avenue to Waldo Street and on the west side from Waldo Street to Chatham Street.