By John Schaffner
johnschaffner@reporternewspapers.net

Folks stroll last year’s Chastain Park Arts Festival.

The organizers of the Chastain Park Arts Festival pride themselves on creating firsts.

Patrick Dennis and Randall Fox of Atlanta Foundation for Public Spaces claim this arts festival is unique in that it is “a festival for artists created by artists,” providing artists the opportunity to have a voice in the event’s creation and operation.

But they go another step beyond the norm in creating a first for the festival.

Last fall, it was seeking to set a new Guinness world record for the number of pies set out in a line. A clever idea, but even they admit it might have distracted from the importance of the art festival.

This year, the first is tied more directly to helping participating artists and those attending the show. Fox has announced that the 2010 Chastain Arts Festival, Nov. 6 and 7, is to have its own iPhone app (application).

Fox says people can find out anything they want to know about the arts festival and the artists – even how to drive there and where to park – just by using their iPhone. “That information will be right there at their fingertips.” Fox explained. Maybe someday it also will apply for Blackberrys, but for now it is limited to iPhone and Droid.

This is the second fall Chastain Park Arts Festival for Dennis, a lobbyist-turned-artist and owner of a Decatur gallery, and Fox, whom Dennis refers to as the creative mind in the business of festival organizing. They also organize a spring festival, which leans more toward crafts.

The festival truly does cater to local and regional artists in a variety of mediums.

According to Dennis, of the 170 artists who were selected to participate by a jury of their peers, 101 are from the metro Atlanta area, 32 are from the city of Atlanta, and 22 live in Buckhead, Sandy Springs and Brookhaven.

“Virtually every fine arts discipline is represented,” Dennis said. There are works by painters, photographers, sculptors, leather and metal crafters, potters, glassblowers and jewelry makers, and pieces in two- and three- dimensional mixed media, ceramics, wood and more.

The festival will feature only acoustic music because they did not want to do a stage, Fox said. “We wanted to keep the respect of the amphitheater [Chastain Park Amphitheatre],” which is right next door to the festival venue. Two performance groups will be set up near each end of the festival area. One group is a husband-and-wife jazz duo, the other is an instrumental group called the Flying Mystics. “It is soothing, a little jazzy and interesting. People love this group,” Dennis said. “There are all these organic materials that they use, and it is very different and very soothing.”

There will be a big children’s area at the Chastain Park playground off Park Drive.

Another first this year, Fox says, will be a Saturday-morning Pet Parade, an idea Fox admits he stole from the Sandy Springs Festival.

There also will be a movie in the park on Friday night that is connected to the Arts Festival.

Fox said this festival is “came together at the request of artists.”

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Festival facts
  • When: Saturday, Nov. 6, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; Sunday, Nov. 7, 11 a.m-5 p.m.
  • Where:  Chastain Park in north Buckhead. Festival will be along Park Drive between Stella Drive and Dudley Lane on the north end of the park, above the playground area and Arts Center.
  • Parking: No parking is permitted in the residential neighborhoods around the park. There are several parking areas in the park and there is plenty of free parking in lots adjacent to the park.
  • Admission: Free
  • Artists: 170 local, regional and national artists, with an emphasis on metro Atlanta and Georgia artists. Festival is completely juried.
  • Entertainment: Live acoustic music by husband-and-wife jazz duo Cliff DeMarks and instrumental group the Flying Mystics.
  • Food: Emphasis will be on healthy-lifestyle food and refreshment choices.
  • Beverages: Soft drinks, lemonade, iced tea and water will be available throughout the venue. City ordinances do not allow alcohol to be brought into the festival area. However, beer and wine will be sold at the festival.
  • Credit cards/payment terms: Many of the artists are equipped to accept credit card payments, although some may not accept some types of cards. Many prefer cash, and there will be an ATM machine on site. Beverage stations and food concessions will accept only cash.
  • Pets: Atlanta allows you to bring your dog to the park.  Just be sure to keep it on a leash and pick up their “calling cards.”
  • Weather: This is a rain-or-shine event. Certain events may be canceled or rescheduled depending on rain, and high winds could cause some closures.
  • Restrooms:  Portable toilets will be available throughout the festival area.