New World Festival of the Arts This Week in Manteo

Stainglass creation. An example of the many creative ideas a the New World Festival of the Arts.
Stainglass creation. An example of the many creative ideas a the New World Festival of the Arts.
A Wonderful Reason to Check out a Picturesque Downtown

The 37th Annual New World Festival of the Arts is Wednesday and Thursday this week and if ever there was a great excuse to stroll along the Manteo waterfront this is it.

Featuring over 75 exhibitors from up and down the East Coast as well as quite a number of local talent, the Festival includes an amazing array of hand-crafted items, pottery, paintings, jewelry and more.

Now sponsored by the Dare County Arts Council, it began its life as the brainchild of the longtime owner of the Christmas Shop Edward Greene. Edward, with deep roots in Manteo, saw all the visitors on the beach and just wanted to get some of them to come to the town.

The idea worked and for the next 30 years he was the driving force behind the event. But when he decided he wanted to slow down—he was around 90 at the time—he asked the DCAC if they would take over.

They did and hit the ground running and the show has a great blend of crafts—hopefully the miniature handblown glass animals will be back this year, and world-class art. Look for Outer Banks artist James Melvin, an amazing artist who also happens to be the illustrator of Suzanne Tate’s Nature Series books.

The Festival has become one of the few regularly scheduled event during the peak summer season. Checking a couple of weather sites, it looks as though Wednesday and Thursday will be great days to visit the Festival. It will be warm but if the forecast holds not hot, with sunshine and a light breeze.

There is always something happening on the Outer Banks and always a reason to visit. Check out Joe Lamb Jr., & Associates & Associates for the best accommodations.

New World Festival of the Arts a Manteo Delight

David Graves plays one of his spiral flutes at the Manteo New World Festival of the Arts.
David Graves plays one of his spiral flutes at the Manteo New World Festival of the Arts.
The Origins of the New World Festival

Back in 1981, Edward Green, who owned the Christmas Shop in Manteo, was looking for a way to bring people to the town during the summer. By that time people had discovered the Outer Banks and were flocking to the beaches, but it didn’t seem as though all that many would drive over the causeway.

Over the years, he had gotten to know a lot of artists and crafters up and down the East Coast. So he came up with the idea of an outdoor arts festival along the Manteo waterfront.

Thirty-six years later the New World Festival of the Arts is still going strong.

Edward, who is approaching the century mark, turned the festival over to the Dare County Arts Council five years ago. When they took it on, they didn’t miss a beat.

What Was on Display

Wednesday and Thursday were the festival days this year and the range of art and creativity that was on display was wonderful

David Graves was back again from Florida with his Native American style flutes. Hand-crafted from reeds native to his home state, each flute is distinctive in sound and appearance.

James Melvin was on hand as well. Melvin does the illustrations for Suzanne Tate’s Nature Series books, but that only represents a small part of his talent. His beach and Outer Banks paintings are remarkable in the how well the depict the feel of being on the beach.

There were over 70 exhibitors on hand this year, and trying to see everything was a bit overwhelming, which is what the organizers hoped for—that the show would have something for everyone and a little bit extra as well.

The weather for the event was close to ideal this year. The mornings did start a bit still and muggy, but by the afternoon, there was a nice breeze off Roanoke Sound and the temperatures were warm but not too bad.

The festival always occurs during the third week in August. Plan on checking it out next year.

Annual New World Festival of the Arts

Lisa Kovac with her pottery on display at New World Festival of the Arts.
Lisa Kovatch with her pottery on display at New World Festival of the Arts.

It was a kind of hot, the sun, especially on Wednesday was intense, but the 36th Annual New World Festival of the Arts on the waterfront in Manteo was as good as it has ever been.

With 78 artists on hand working in a wide variety of medians, this is an annual event worth checking out.

From the beginning, when Edward Greene of the Christmas Store came up with the idea, the Festival has been a celebration of art of all kinds with crafters coming from all over the East Coast.

Five years ago Edward asked the Dare County Arts Council to take over the event and they have done and great job of continuing the tradition.

There’s seems to be something for every taste at the Festival. There is some absolutely remarkable pottery—the Celtic Pottery in particular was stunning—local artist Lisa LeMair was on hand with her very differently styled jewelry and James Melvin, who is in some ways the dean of Outer Banks artists was also on hand.

There are always some first time exhibitors who warranted a second look. Bob Bohannon with his Seashore Carvings had some interesting pieces; also the sea glass work that local jeweler Pembroke Bryant created with did a great job of highlighting the beauty of the glass.