Paradise City Arts Fest returns for Memorial Day Weekend

  • “Bird Song #2," encaustic (beeswax) painting on birchwood panel by Lori Austill Lori Austill

  • "Chess Mastery," metal chess set by Easthampton sculptor Matthew Johnson  JOHN POLAK PHOTOGRAPHY

  • "Chubby Nut the Peacock," scrap metal scuplture by Richard Kolb. Richard Kolb—GAZETTE STAFF/

  • "King Penguin Heads," Ted Tatarzyn photograph of penguins at St. Andrews Bay in Antarctica.  Ted Tatarzyn—GAZETTE STAFF/

  • "Dragon Flower Pendant," constructed from roll-printed oxidized sterling and 18K bimetal by Christine MacKellar  S. Cole Rodger Coleimage.com

Staff Writer
Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Ah, Memorial Day Weekend. In the Valley, it means the unofficial start of summer, the beginning of barbecue season and the return of the Paradise City Arts Festival.

The three-day arts extravaganza, now in its 23rd season, comes to the Three County Fairgrounds in Northampton May 27-29, bringing 250 artists and craftspeople — from 21 states, including Massachusetts — who work in a wide range of mediums, from decorative arts and sculpture to mixed media and fine furniture.

Along with the art comes plenty of musical entertainment, food, demonstrations and lectures on a host of related topics. 

Longtime festival director Linda Post says Paradise City is dedicated to featuring independent artists and craftspeople and giving them a forum where they can meet one-on-one with visitors and customers.

“People are looking for the personal touch, the conversations with artists that are a vital part of what makes festivals like Paradise City valuable to the arts community,” she said.

The festival also likes to bring new features each year to its regular lineup, and this year it comes in the form of “Birds of Paradise,” an exhibit in Building 2 at the fairgrounds in which artists celebrate winged creatures in multiple mediums: jewelry, ceramics, glass, painting, sculpture and more.

Among some three dozen local artists whose work will be at the festival, metal sculptor and furniture maker Matthew Johnson of Easthampton has created what might be the ultimate chessboard, “Titanomachy,” with outsize metal pieces based on ancient Greek gods and monsters.

For last year’s arts fest, Johnson created another massive chess set that pitted figurines from ancient Greece and Rome versus armored medieval warriors.

The Paradise City Arts Festival takes place, rain or shine, at the Three County Fairground in Northampton from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, and from 10 a.m. t0 4 p.m. on Monday, Memorial Day.

Tickets are $14 for adults, $12 for seniors and $8 for students; a three-day pass is $16, and admission is free for ages 12 and under. For more information, visit www.paradisecityarts.com.