Waitsfield Telecom and Valley Arts are pleased to present the annual Great Vermont Plein Air Festival, an eagerly anticipated yearly art event, 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 & 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.

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 out doors. 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.

This year 20 artists plan on painting on Friday and Saturday starting at 9:00 am although there are some ambitious artists who start at the crack of dawn to catch the early light. A Children’s Plein Air on Saturday (11 am to 3 pm) is an opportunity for children to experience painting with adult artists. Paints, brushes and paper are provide at no cost. The children’s event is sponsored by Marsha Finley.

Plans for Saturday include paint demos by artists (3 to 5 pm), tie-dying for the entire family (1 to 2:30 pm) and a non-alcoholic Sip En Plein Air in a garden with artist, Helen Issackedes (1 to 3 pm). Walk-ins for this event are welcome and painting supplies are provided – you bring the non-alcoholic beverage.

New for 2019 is a plein air painting competition. Artists must complete a painting between the hours of 9 am and 3 pm 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 pm.

The always popular Festival Sidewalk Art Show and Sale takes place on Friday and Saturday (9 am to 5 pm). The sale showcases artists’ previously executed paintings and culminates with an exhibition of new, plein air paintings on Saturday afternoon. The show is a great place to pick up an original work of art created before your eyes.

All the festivities, complete with music by Chickie Stoltz (2:30 to 4:30 pm), are centered along Historic 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 & 20 from 9 am to 5 pm. The Festival takes place rain or shine.