The 17th annual Vermont Festival of the Arts kicks off in just two weeks and artists, craftsmen, performers, musicians, dancers, chefs, photographers and singers are all getting ready for the month. With well over 100 events taking place during August, The Valley is the place to experience and participate in the arts in Vermont.

There are a number of art exhibits happening during this year's festival. Two of the most anticipated events are the annual Big Red Barn Art Show and Photo Show in the Round Barn. The Big Red Barn Art Show celebrates the artists and fine arts of The Valley. Every exhibitor lives in one of the towns touched by the Mad River. The two- and three-dimensional fine art includes paintings, etchings, monoprints and sculpture from over 40 local artists. Many well-known Valley artists will have their work on display including Julia Purinton, Joan Lane, Macy Moulton, Marilyn Ruseckas and Gary Eckhart.

The 25th annual Photo Show promises to be exciting. Photographers from all over New England enter their work in this major photography show each year. Presented by Green Mountain Cultural Center and overseen by Pam Lerner, this annual exhibit offers an opportunity to view photographs taken by both professional and amateur photographers. Color, black-and-white, hand-colored and digitally enhanced photographs will be on display in the classic round barn setting throughout the Festival. Jim Raye, videographer and photographer for Vermont Public Television, will be the guest speaker at the opening reception on August 6. He will be talking about the "beauty shots" he produces that are aired among the programming.

Other art exhibitions include one at Waitsfield United Church, which will be exhibiting the work of Vermont artist Janet McKenzie. The show, Holiness & the Feminine Spirit, is an extraordinary compilation of her work and will include her award-winning painting Jesus of the People. It has been many years since she has had a solo show of her work in Vermont and it shouldn't be missed. Pitcher Inn has brought back landscape impressionist Frank Corso for a week that will include a meet-the-artist reception and concert. Robert O'Brien, winner of Best in Show at the 2013 Green Mountain Watercolor Exhibition and awards judge of the current exhibit, presents his watercolor at Bridges Gallery.

Many smaller exhibits are just as important. Local Moretown artist Elga Gemst will have a display of her stained glass in the windows at the Festival Gallery. A variety of handmade quilts will be on view at White Horse Inn and sculptor John Matusz will open his studio on Route 100 to show his work and the clay sculptures of Ellen Urman. A selection of paintings from artists of Vermont Watercolor Society will be on display at Three Mountain Café.

There will be abundant opportunities to watch the artists at work, too. Artisans' Gallery hosts demonstrations every weekend during August. Gary Eckhart demonstrates his watercolor techniques at Parade Gallery on Wednesdays and offers his watercolor workshops throughout the month. Luke Iannuzzi will conduct his Raku Pottery Demo on August 23. Gaelic McTigue can be found painting her handcrafted Christmas ornaments at All Things Bright and Beautiful every day. People can see numerous artists in action at the Great Vermont Plein Air Paint-Out.

To try creating a masterpiece, sign up for a workshop. Roarke Sharlow is offering his digital photography classes, Bette Ann Libby still has space in her Mosaic Shard workshop and Barbara Pafume's "Painting Your Way" classes at Lareau Farm are a great introduction to painting.

Pick up festival programs at locations throughout The Valley or at the Festival Gallery in Village Square. For a full calendar of events visit For more information on these or any festival event call (802) 496-6682 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..