Photo courtesy of Valley Arts. The Great Vermont Plein Air Festival returns to Waitsfield Village on July 19 and 20

The annual Great Vermont Plein Air Festival, an art event, is returning once again to the village of Waitsfield. Artists working in various mediums converge on the village to paint the beautiful scenery on July 19 and 20. The Plein Air Festival is a great opportunity to meet and talk with artists, working in various mediums, who gather for two days of painting in the great outdoors. Waitsfield Telecom and Valley Arts are presenting the event.

The term “plein air” derives from the French term for open air. It originated in the mid-1800s when the impressionist painters popularized the practice of painting outdoors. Plein air today is the largest art movement in the history of art and continues to gather momentum. The first plein air event in the Mad River Valley was held in 2008 when six artists gathered for a one-day event during the annual Vermont Festival of the Arts in August.

pleinair festival

This year 20 artists plan on painting on Friday and Saturday starting at 9 a.m. although there are some ambitious artists who start at the crack of dawn to catch the early light. A Children’s Plein Air event on Saturday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. is an opportunity for children to experience painting with adult artists. Paints, brushes and paper are provided at no cost. The children’s event is sponsored by Marsha Finley.

Plans for Saturday include paint demos by artists (3 to 5 p.m.), tie-dying for the entire family (1 to 2:30 p.m.) and an alcohol-free Sip En Plein Air in a garden with artist Helen Issackedes (1 to 3 p.m.). Walk-ins for this event are welcome and painting supplies are provided. Participants bring the nonalcoholic beverages.

New for 2019 is a plein air painting competition. Artists must complete a painting between the hours of 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. to be eligible for an award voted on by the public. Voting for the People’s Choice Award takes place between 3 and 4:30 p.m.



The Festival Sidewalk Art Show and Sale takes place on Friday and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The sale showcases artists’ previously executed paintings and culminates with an exhibition of new, plein air paintings on Saturday afternoon.

All the festivities, complete with music by Chicky Stoltz (2:30 to 4:30 p.m.), are centered along Bridge Street in Waitsfield through the cooperation of the local residents and businesses. Maps and information are available throughout the day at the festival tent on both Friday and Saturday, July 19 and 20, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The festival takes place rain or shine.