Mad River Valley Arts began as the Festival of the Arts 22 years ago. The Festival was an annual six-week-long series of events, exhibitions, cooking classes, workshops, a garden tour, sometimes a house tour. It took place in July and August throughout The Valley. Things continued relatively unchanged until The Valley was devastated by Tropical Storm Irene in 2011.
Had the tropical storm occurred only a few weeks earlier, the festival would have been washed out. So, the heads of the organization worked to expand and add events each year and the Festival Gallery now houses five to six events over 12 months and Lareau Farm holds warm weather events in the Red Barn Galleries from June to October.
“It has not been an easy process and in 2020, COVID caused the cancellation of all our events,” said Jane Macan, president of Valley Arts.
At the beginning of 2021, in order to make it easier to find online, Valley Arts became Mad River Valley Arts. Many of the things Valley Arts was known for have morphed or disappeared, particularly the Taste of the Valley, which began at the Round Barn and moved to Sugarbush. Several have continued; in particular, the Green Mountain Watercolor Exhibition (GMWE).
In 2021, all events were put on the calendar and most took place with COVID-dictated precautions. It was a busy summer, with over 4,000 visitors to the GMWE and Photo Show. The shows in the Festival Gallery, with limited exhibition hours, had almost 1,000 people.
“The arts in the Mad River Valley are enjoying a Renaissance. The many talented local artists deserve our support, recognition and attention. To name painters, sculptors, glass blowers, potters, actors, poets, writers, singers and musicians only begins the list of creative people,” Macan said.
She said that the 2022 calendar is filled with established events and will continue to highlight what Mad River Valley Arts offers as well as other arts’ events in The Valley and, occasionally, beyond.
“The Valley can become the arts Mecca in the middle of the state. The Valley is a ski and sports destination; let’s become one for the arts,” Macan urged.