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Chester County Press

Brandywine Festival of the Arts makes the holidays special

About 150 of the region’s finest artists and artisans will ring in the season December 16 and 17 at the inaugural Brandywine Holiday Festival of the Arts at the Chase Center on the Wilmington Riverfront.

The event will bring indoors many of the painters, jewelry makers, potters, photographers and fabric artists who have made the Brandywine Festival of the Arts the must-go September show for the area’s art lovers for more than 60 years.

The festival is an opportunity to complete holiday gift shopping while interacting with popular artists and fellow art lovers. 

Barry Schlecker of Barry’s Events, the festival’s producer, said the idea for the event came from the artists themselves, many of whom have been holding holiday sales in their homes or studios for years. 

“They told me that they’d participate in an event that would bring many artists together, so they could draw a larger audience and give shoppers a wider selection of great works,” Schlecker said.

Within a week of announcing the event to regional artists in mid-July, more than 75 signed up, and registrations have already hit 120, with about 30 more spaces available, he said.

Heading an impressive lineup of exhibitors will be noted Wilmington painter and folk artist Eunice LaFate, a native of Jamaica who settled in the city 40 years ago and now operates her own gallery on Market Street. LaFate will be the festival’s featured artist.

Also exhibiting will be Oksana Pivush, the refugee jewelry maker from Ukraine, who enjoyed a successful US debut in September at the Brandywine Festival of the Arts.

Other exhibitors include jewelry maker Olga Ganoudis, well-known for her licensed works for the Game of Thrones television series;  painter Rick Phillips; photographer and visual artist Eric Zippe; Jimmy Thompson of the City Painting Group, known for paintings of Wilmington buildings; Sue Ann Cox, “The Fairy Potter”; Sandy Askey-Adams, who focuses on inspirational paintings of natural scenes, and jewelry maker Cheryl Titcher, who specializes in animal themes. 

In addition to artists, the festival will feature food vendors, live music and entertainment, face painting and other children’s activities. 

Children and Families First, a Delaware nonprofit focused on helping children, youth and families thrive to their full potential, will be a cosponsor of the event and share in the proceeds from festival admissions.

The two-day festival will be a highlight of the season on the Wilmington Riverfront, which will also host an array of holiday-themed events. 

Festival admission on Dec. 16 and 17 will be $5, with children 12 and under accompanied by an adult admitted free. Parking at the Riverfront is always free.

Barry’s Events is a family-owned business, with Barry Schlecker as producer, his partner Ginger Weiss as marketing and sponsorship coordinator and his son Rob Schlecker as director of operations.