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Out & About: Chelsea Arts Collective Hosts Inaugural Arts Festival

  • Chelsea resident and artist Carrie Caouette-De Lallo holds a T-shirt made for the inaugural Arts Festival, coming up next Saturday in Chelsea. (Courtesy Carrie Caouette-De Lallo)

  • Helen Heslop, a member of the Chelsea Arts Collective, made a barn quilt for an area nursing home. (Courtesy of Carrie Caouette-De Lallo)



Valley News Calendar Editor
Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Chelsea — A grassroots effort to turn Chelsea into a destination for the arts will be on display in full force at the town’s inaugural Arts Festival.

Organized by the Chelsea Arts Collection, the free event will take place from 10 a.m.-5 p.m on Saturday on the North Common in Chelsea Village.

The festival has been largely funded by private donations.

“A lot of private individuals have stepped up and helped us to make this happen,” resident and artist Carrie Caouette-De Lallo said.

There will be a silent auction of art donated by artists.

“I’ve been amazed by that and I’m excited were going to have seed money to start and plan next years event,” Caouette-De Lallo said.

The idea came about from a series of meetings Caouette-De Lallo began hosting around her kitchen table.

“I put out this vision of an arts and music festival,” Caouette-De Lallo recalled. It’s a volunteer-led effort. “There are so many people who are helping now and it’s just astonishing to me what’s happening.”

In the lead up to the event, more than 50 barn quilts — large plywood panels with geometric designs — have been appearing all over town, made by businesses and residents.

The arts collective was formed in response to the challenges the town was facing. Last fall, a number of business had closed and downtown wasn’t as vibrant as it once was.

“It was looking pretty bleak here,” Caouette-De Lallo said. “It was amazing how it affected people’s psyche.”

That was when residents in town decided to step up and take the future of Chelsea into their own hands.

“This focus on just digging into a community has been so special,” Caouette-De Lallo said. In the winter, residents attended potlucks where they were posed three questions: What do they like about the community? What do they miss about it? What would they like to see in Chelsea?

Some said they missed having concerts on the common and other arts activities. Then, the questions became more specific, with the Chelsea Arts Collective taking on two in particular.

“How do we bring back some of that creative energy and how do we celebrate that artists who live in this valley?” Caouette-De Lallo asked.

The idea for the arts festival began to evolve. There will be 35 artists and five musical acts sharing their talents. Food will be available for purchase from vendors. A family tent will feature art made by kids and projects for the whole family to do together.

“Its just evolved into this really beautiful thing,” Caouette-De Lallo said. “I think Chelsea is just picking up its head and saying ‘Yeah I’m so proud of this community.’ ”

Editor’s note: For more information about the Chelsea Arts Collective and the Arts Festival, visit www.chelseavt-arts.com. Liz Sauchelli can be reached at esauchelli@vnews.com or 603-727-3221.