The Edom Art Festival is back after being thrown a curveball last year by the COVID-19 pandemic.

More than 50 artists will display their work — including ceramics, metal, photography, fiber, mixed media, sculpture, glass, painting, wood and jewelry — during the festival this weekend in Van Zandt County.

Festival Director Beth Brown said this year’s event is dedicated to “A Celebration of Art and Life.” Her husband, Doug Brown, died last year.

“This is my first festival without Doug, and that’s why we’re celebrating art and life,” she said. “And then, just coming out of the pandemic, we had to cancel last year. There’s just been a lot of loss of life and our community has been hit pretty hard.”

Brown’s husband was the founder of the art festival.

“He moved here in 1971 from northern California and settled in Edom and started the art community here,” she said. “A year after he arrived, he started the art festival, and it’s been going on ever since. This is our 49th year, so we’re planning a big celebration next year for our 50th.”

Brown said another one of the their artists also died this past year.

“It’s just … this gaping wound for our little town here with two very important artists leaving us last year,” she said. “We just wanted to celebrate life and the beauty of it and the beauty of art with life.”

This past year’s festival was virtual, but Brown said it wasn’t well-received.

“We put all of our artists on the website along with photographs of their work and contact numbers,” she said. “We did not sell their work directly for them because we wanted them to have that personal contact with people just as you would if you went into their booths at the festivals.”

Although organizers had to cancel the in-person festival, Brown said they still wanted to make it easy for longtime customers to support their favorite artists online.

“But it didn’t work real well,” she said. “It’s not the same as our regular festival, so we’re excited to be back in person this year.”

The festival is family-friendly and also has an area for children.

“We have what’s called the Kids Creation Station, and I have an artist this year who is helping us to create masks, not pandemic face masks, but more like a Mardi Gras or Halloween mask,” Brown said.

This year’s event won’t have face painting.

“We felt like that wasn’t a good thing to do during the climate right now,” Brown said.

A festival isn’t a festival without good food and drink.s and Brown said there will be plenty of it.

“We have a lot of really good food and we have a wine garden area, and two of our East Texas wineries will be joining us,” she said. “There’s a small … stage with comfortable seating and café tables, so you can sit and listen to music while you enjoy a glass of wine and your lunch or handmade artisan goat cheese or handmade chocolates.”

In addition to Texas, Brown said artists come from other states such as Kansas, Oklahoma and Louisiana to put their work on exhibit.

As for the number of attendees each year, Brown said it’s hard to tell since there isn’t an admission charge.

“A few years ago we had a gate counter and we counted 8,000 who came through,” she said. “I think we probably get between 8,000 to 10,000 people if it’s a nice weekend.”

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