Day one of Art in the Park a big hit

Saturday, June 6, 2009 | 9:08 p.m. CDT; updated 1:05 p.m. CDT, Monday, June 8, 2009
Jacques A. Bachelier, leaded glass artist, considers putting away some of his pieces that were banging together in the wind. Bachelier has been making a living at his craft for 35 years and enjoys the creativity his profession allows him. He plays with colors and shapes. Sometimes he hides items in his glass. "Glass has a lot of color," said Bachelier. "It's beautiful to work with."

COLUMBIA — The 51st annual Art in the Park exhibition drew large crowds to Stephens Lake Park on Saturday. With temperatures in the 80s and a clear sky, the event was a sure success.

“There are a lot more vendors this year, which brings out a lot more people,” said MU student Alexis Brown, an Art in the Park volunteer. She said the weather was perfect for an event like this, and people started pouring in even before 10 a.m.  

If you go

WHAT: Art in the Park

WHEN: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. today

WHERE: Stephens Lake Park

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People of all ages went to the exhibition, all for their own reasons.

“We just like seeing all the different art,”  Columbia resident Wendy Murray said. She and her husband, Bob Murray, have been going to Art in the Park for at least 10 years.

Others went because of the many different activities for children, such as face painting and crafts. Laurin and Jason Hanft, along with their son, Ayden, said they went both for the art and because it is a family-friendly environment.

More than 100 artists are featured this year, their work including sculpture, ceramics and jewelry.  

Celia Smith, a painter originally from Spain, said she had a lot of people pass through her booth and her overall reception was good.

This is Smith’s first year at Art in the Park, and she is participating because she has a “good memory of Columbia” and people appreciate her art, she said.

Some of the artists featured are not what one would call “traditional.” Steven Meadows, from Palestine, Ill., is a sculptor who specializes in “junk art.” His art features sculpture made out of things from paintbrushes to old metal pans. He is participating for the first time this year.

Besides art, there are a number of sights to keep people entertained.

Magician and illusionist Dan Sperry was a huge hit with the crowd; there were not enough seats for the people who gathered around to watch his show.  

Sperry’s show consisted of on-stage magic tricks, audience interaction and mind reading. People were eager to volunteer for his acts, and Sperry had people doubling over with laughter. Sperry will perform another show Sunday  at 3:15 p.m.

Some other entertainers to be featured Sunday are ventriloquist Mike Niehaus, the Stonelion Puppet Theatre, jazz musician Lisa Rose and the Megan Boyer Band.

Spread throughout the park were other entertaining acts, such as juggling, caricature-painting, stilt-walking and short plays, all of which will return Sunday.

Food and drinks are available for purchase. Parking is available at Boone Medical Center, and a free shuttle is provided. While the event is stroller- and wheelchair-friendly, people are asked to not bring pets.

Sunday is expected to be another beautiful 80-degree day, which will provide people with another chance to enjoy free entertainment and art in the park.

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