Watercolor artist Kay Gillispie, above left, prepares to share her talents with event attendees. S. Stewart photo

Suzanne Stewart
Staff Writer

It may have been dreary Saturday, but that didn’t dampen the spirits of participants in the first ever Watoga Art in the Park event.

The area around the Watoga State Park picnic pavilion was filled with artists demonstrating and selling their work, as well as classes provided by eight professional artists.

Local artists including broom maker Brenda Harman, blacksmith Woody Harman, quilter Jane Beverage, potter Cynthia Gurreri, ceramicist Cree Lahti, stone artist Kevin Stitzinger, photographer Cole Mahaffey, were joined by fellow West Virginia artists Stan Cook of Mestari Designs, pastel artist Kelly Bryant, Denise Heckel of Studio D Pottery and Jewelry and jewelry artist Christine Keller.

Musical entertainment was provided by Aurora Celtic, whose traditional celtic songs filled the park with whimsical tunes.
Visitors stayed warm by the fireplace in the picnic pavilion where they could also explore their own artistic flair with painter Kristen Lecroy.

Lecroy, along with Sigrid Eilerston, Kathryn Gillispie, Mary Burruss, Alan Miller, Ken Nagakui, Woody Harm and Rose Dobbins, led classes in their respective mediums. Students learned to paint in watercolor, acrylics and pastels, and tried their hand at blacksmithing, basketry, pottery and collages, while a few stretched their minds and bodies with yoga.

“Out came the sun and dried up all the rain” on Sunday and the fun continued as artisans returned to their tents ready to share their talents with a new round of – and some repeat – visitors.

Erica and Paolo Marks provided the musical entertainment for Sunday’s crowd.

Food vendors DirtBean Café and Angie’s Brick Oven, LLC, kept everyone warm and fed with a selection of coffees, bakery items and stone oven pizza. The Watoga State Park Foundation also sold beverages.

Artist Kay Gillispie said organizers were not going to let Saturday’s rain deter them, and plans for next year’s event are already underway.