Lafayette’s Round the Fountain Art Fair still thriving after 45 years

Lafayette’s Round the Fountain Art Fair still thriving after 45 years

Lafayette’s Round the Fountain Art Fair still thriving after 45 years

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LAFAYETTE — The streets surrounding the Tippecanoe County Courthouse will be transformed into the area’s largest outdoor art gallery Saturday with the 45th annual Round the Fountain Art Fair.

Nearly 90 artists will set up shop for the one-day sale, offering high-quality art for sale, said Ruthie Shook, a member of the organizing committee.

A wide variety of media are offered, everything from oil, acrylic and watercolor paintings to ceramics, metal, sculpture, fiber arts, photography, glass, jewelry, wood and mixed media.

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“It’s a pretty good variety,” Shook said. “It’s not heavy in one medium.”

Artists come mostly from the Midwest, said Shook, with a few coming from as far away as California. Each year, they try to bring in some new artists and add variety. But, Shook said, many artists are happy to return year after year.

“We’ve had a very steady return rate, very loyal people,” she said. “For a lot of these artists, the fact that it’s a one-day show is a positive. They can come for a day and not lose their weekend.”

Deborah Hoover, acrylics, and a past award winner, has been coming for the past several years, and she says she always has a wonderful experience.

“It’s a great show,” she said. “I have nice sales and people are friendly. I’m honored to be able to be doing it again.”

Her works, depicting jazz musicians and a spiritual narrative, have proven to be very popular. She often gets repeat customers. In fact, Hoover, who hails from Grand Rapids, Mich., has at least one customer from Grand Rapids who visits her at the Round the Fountain Fair while he is in Indianapolis for the 500.

Part of the draw is the fun atmosphere, Shook said. When the weather is good, the Lafayette downtown provides a lovely backdrop for the art. It’s easy to walk around and navigate the various booths. Local restaurants are open and welcoming. Visitors are welcome to visit the permanent collection in the courthouse.

Plus, the event is well-organized. Shook said artists get lots of help with unloading their art and with set-up and tear-down. Should they need to take a break, run to the restroom or to grab a bite to eat, a volunteer is readily available to sit and mind their booth for them.

“I’ve been to a lot of shows around the country,” Shook said. “Our committee is exceptionally helpful to the artists. We have volunteers there are 6 a.m. ready to help. We have so many volunteers who are willing to help out.”

That’s something, Shook said, the artists take note of.

“It’s the nicest show they’ve been to and the most friendly,” she said.

She also credits patrons for making the show a huge success. Artists have great sales, making them want to return year after year.

“We attract a very diverse population who come to look at the art and enjoy the ambience,” she said. “They’ve developed a nice collection in their homes.”

Shook has been part of the organizing committee for 44 years. She and Jim Bodenmiller, who is also still involved, were invited to join by then-organizer Bud Baugh.

“The art fair is part of his legacy,” she said. “We hope it continues.”

For Shook, helping organize the annual event is a labor of love, a way of improving the community she calls home. She would encourage others who have a passion for art and want to contribute to that part of community life to get involved in the committee.

“It’s because we love it,” she said. “It’s my way of giving back and making Lafayette an even better place to live.”

The fair runs from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturday. Proceeds support fine arts education in the public schools, after-hours arts programs, courthouse restoration projects, restoration of the Marquis de Lafayette fountain, outside lighting and seating, and public arts projects and installation.

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Lewis Rice

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