Lightening on Kings Mountain. Courtesy of Subversive Photography
About the Art Fair
On this page you'll find some information that is of interest to the Kings Mountain community. However, for general information about the art fair please visit the official website at kingsmountainartfair.org.
A Bit of Information about the Kings Mountain Art Fair
Whether we moved to Kings Mountain months, years, or decades ago, we all quickly became aware that the major annual event in this community is the Kings Mountain Art Fair, held every year on Labor Day Weekend. A lot of material and media is generated for potential fairgoers, but it may have been a while since an overview has been presented specifically to the residents of Kings Mountain. Here is a quick FAQ.
When and why did the art fair start?
After a local house burned, over 48 years ago, several residents got together to form a Fire Department. It was recognized that we are a rural community, without direct, rapid emergency support from any other locality. The land for the Fire Department was deeded to the community by the Phleger Estate, with the specific deed provision that the property be used for a Fire Department.
The Kings Mountain Art Fair was started as a fundraiser for the newly formed volunteer Fire Department. Over the years, this event has steadily grown into one of the most successful art fairs on the west coat, highly competitive for artists and a consistently huge fundraiser for the fire department and other local organizations. The Kings Mountain Art Fair has earned the reputation as one of the top 5 Art Fairs in Northern California. (source, Art Fair Source Book)
When is the Kings Mountain Art Fair? Where is it?
It is ALWAYS on Labor Day weekend. Unlike some other local fairs over that weekend, it is all three days. Invite your friends to come up that holiday weekend. The Fair is held on the grounds of the Fire Department, within the Community Center, and in the woods surrounding.
What are the proceeds of the art fair used for?
The primary beneficiary has been and will continue to be the volunteer fire department, which is highly professional, well-trained and the lifeline for this community. Building the building(s), purchasing and maintaining the equipment, including the engines and rescue vehicles, creating the emergency backup generators – all this has been possible due to the revenues of the Art Fair. The other primary beneficiary of the Art Fair is the Kings Mountain Elementary School, through the Kings Mountain Education Fund. The Art Fair as an entity is a 501c(4) organization.
How does the art fair earn money for the fire department and the community?
The revenues from the fair come from a percentage of juried artist sales (15%), Mountain Folk Art Sales (10%), artist entry fees, food and beverage sales, t-shirt and memorabilia sales, and direct donations.
If the art fair has a bad year what happens to the fire department and other community organizations?
The revenues of the Fair have varied across the years, some better than others. Fortunately we have yet to have a disastrous year. About 10 years ago the Art Fair Board enacting Preservation funding, as part of good fiscal management. The board resolutions provide that a certain amount must be set aside each year for preservation funding, prior to distributing the proceeds to the Fire Department or other organizations. The goal is to build an annuity, in the event the Fair can no longer continue. In addition, the AF Board created a Contingency fund as part of that, which essentially would fund the expected revenues of the fair for one year, in the event of a short term major disruption (such as an earthquake or other major natural disaster).
Who exhibits at the fair?
There are two artist groups at the Fair. The first is the Juried Artist pool. These are artists from across the US (and even Canada, sometimes) who apply in December, to participate. A jury selects the chosen 135 artists who will participate in this portion of the Fair. Artists from several disciplines – photography, sculpture, textiles, wood working, ceramics, etc are included. Applications include not only images of the art, but also the artist resume and biography. These artists are subject to specific standards about the hand-made nature of their work, their production techniques and how they exhibit. Jury selection is highly competitive. To see a list of the artists and categories chosen each year, visit the Art Fair website – Kingsmountainartfair.org
In addition, there is a section of the Fair for Mountain Artists. This section is specifically created for all our local artists and crafts persons who wish to exhibit. There are requirements about local residency and how one exhibits, to ensure our local artists are represented with integrity. Applications are due the first week in July, and the number of exhibitors can vary each year.
Who 'runs' the art fair?
Unlike almost every other art fair, ours is run by an army of volunteers. Hundreds of people donate thousands of hours every year. We don't need an "old home week" or an annual reunion because the one time of year for new and old residents to come together is Labor Day Weekend. The Art Fair is always in need of new volunteers, and there is no better way to meet new friends and get involved in the community. Generally we estimate that 400 people volunteer each year for the Fair, and all are needed and deeply appreciated.
In addition to the volunteers who donate hours of time over the Labor Day weekend there are several "Chairs" who specifically manage sections of the Fair over the course of the year. Examples are Kiddie Hollow, Beverages, Mountain Artists, the Grill, Artist Registration, and Booth Sitters. These Chairs usually devote days and weeks during the year, in order to be prepared for the three actual days of the Fair. Art Fair Chairs are volunteer roles and many Chairpersons have served a number of years in those roles. (But Chairs do retire and seek to find their replacements as part of that retirement, so don't hesitate to raise your hand as a Chair, either!)
Finally, there is a Board of Directors, composed of a six person rotating membership, plus the volunteer Executive Director of the Fair. The board oversees the financial well-being of the organization, the distribution of funds (recommended by the board, subject to approval by the Chairs), and works with the Executive Director to ensure a smooth-as-possible operation.
Who are the current members of the Board of Directors? How long is their term?
The 2019 Board of Directors is:
- Marty Phelps - President
- Chris Reynolds - Vice-President
- Sheena Mawson
- Katrin Gosling
- Shannon Kromat - Secretary
- Dawn Neisser
- Bev Abbott - Executive Director
All board members are, of course, open to community members' questions and concerns.
Because the membership is rotating, board membership will change each year. A board position lasts for three years, and no board member can serve more than two consecutive terms. Membership is staggered so that no more than two members rotate off the board in any given year (to preserve some continuity). The Executive Director serves in that role at the discretion of the board and historically the ED(s) have held the role for eight or more years.
I'm new to the community, what should I expect over Labor Day Weekend, during the fair?
Ah, expect three things. First, the Art Fair draws several thousand attendees during the weekend. Cars will be parked along Skyline Boulevard for at least a couple of miles in either direction of the Fire Department. Old fashioned cable car shuttles run along Skyline, from designated stops, to help transport our fair-goers.
Next, all your neighbors are likely to be involved in the Fair, in one role or another. This is a fantastic way to meet your community. Don't be surprised if your neighbors hold a party, inviting all their friends to come and visit that weekend and enjoy the Fair and gather for the fun, and/or if you see your neighbor in the Grill or booth sitting or riding the shuttle.
Lastly, you will see an extraordinary site. Really wonderful artists, situated in the redwoods, appreciative and happy fairgoers, kids playing in Kiddie Hollow, some incredible cookies served by school children, an extraordinarily efficient and friendly kitchen crew – all brought about by this community. It is a unique and wonderful experience.
How do I get involved or more involved?
What really makes the Art Fair the stunning success that is has become, is the army of dedicated, enthusiastic, fun-loving volunteers who are the real engine of the fair. For those of you who show up every year, own your job and just go with it, there are not enough thanks. And for those of you who have not quite dipped your toe into this fun experience, please be assured that you are needed, and will be appreciated. There are jobs for every age (the trajectory starts with tray duty at a very tender age) and ability.
The Kings Mountain Echo (www.kingsmountainecho.org) provides contact information to sign up for the variety of available jobs. Also, many Chairs will circulate information or requests via our local Kings Mountain Yahoo group (information can be found on kingsmountainonline.com – Community tab).
If you are brimming with ideas from your volunteer experience, please be sure to share with your Chair. Over the years, the best and brightest improvements have always come from the community, so please continue to share.