Two Art Festivals Held in Downtown Fort Worth – NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth

Two arts festivals, the Main Street Arts Festival and the Fort Worth Arts Fair, are expected to draw tens of thousands of people to downtown Fort Worth this weekend.

The Main Street Fort Worth Arts Festival returned Thursday after a two-year hiatus and runs through Sunday. This year, 212 artists from across the country were selected from a pool of more than 1,000 applicants.

Eric Clay of Orlando, Florida is participating for the first time. Clay’s work is based on photography, working with historical portraits and animal photos.

“Usually it makes people smile. The casual person finds it a bit scary,” Clay said.

For many artists like Steve Palmer of Minneapolis, festivals and fairs in Minnesota are an important part of their livelihood. Palmer works with blown glass art and said he had to close his studio for a year during the pandemic.

“That’s all I do. I’ve been doing this for almost 40 years and make my living doing it, exclusively through art fairs. I don’t do galleries,” he said.

Tom Diel didn’t have to travel as far as other artists. Diel is from Fort Worth and works on Vickery Boulevard. In 2011, he was named “Best Emerging Artist” at the festival and then awarded “Best in Show” in 2013.

“It’s my raison d’etre. My reason for being is to do this kind of work. This weekend is my main marketing event every year. If I’m invited back, that’s my main marketing event. So I try to do it every year and I work months and months to be here. I will work until three in the morning, he said. “It’s huge. You don’t understand. It’s about 40% of my business, and it’s such a draw.”

Claire Armstrong, spokeswoman for Downtown Fort Worth, Inc., said the arts festival is ranked the third-best fine arts event in the United States and averages about $4 million in art sales. It is the second highest attendance event in Fort Worth behind the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo, generating approximately $27 million in economic revenue.

The festival has already seen record crowds since opening Thursday, Armstrong said.

“It’s just invigorating. I think there are a lot of pent up requests for an event like this. It’s such a Fort Worth tradition for the people,” she said.

This year, the festival is held on the same weekend as the first Fort Worth Arts Fair. The arts fair is hosted by Sundance Square, including musical performances and art galleries.

“We wish they had chosen a different weekend to hold theirs because it created some confusion from the public,” Armstrong said. “But you know, if anything, it’s just going to bring more people downtown, which is great because these businesses have all fought to stay open.”

Ruth Meharg, assistant director of the Fort Worth Arts Fair, said the focus is on local and regional artists.

“We don’t see it as a competition at all. We take it as a compliment,” Merharg said, referring to the Main Street Fort Worth Arts Festival. “Walking around seeing everything, I’m so proud to see all the artists here. A lot of people feel like they have to go to New York or somewhere, and I feel like what we’re starting to do is provide a place where artists can live here and earn their life as artists.

With two festivals happening at the same time, downtown businesses are bracing for heavier foot traffic. Pax & Beneficia Coffee opened in Fort Worth last February. Operations Manager Corey Stephens said they were staffed and ready for the busy weekend.

“We didn’t get to experience this last year in Fort Worth and it’s huge to have it this time around. The spring weather is here so business is up. arts is here. We’re really grateful for that,” Stephens said.

For more information on the two festivals, Click here.

David H. Henry