The Kings Mountain Art Fair won’t take place among the towering redwoods this year. Visitors from across the Bay Area won’t be able to visit the dozens of artists showcasing their work.
But fair organizers are striving to retain that intimate connection between artist and customer even as the fair goes virtual this year.
For the first time in the 56 years since its inception, the Kings Mountain Art Fair will be held solely online from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday through Monday, Sept. 5, 6 and 7. Even in the new format, the fair is still a massive fund-raiser for the Kings Mountain Volunteer Fire Bridge and Kings Mountain Elementary School.
Here’s how the virtual fair works: Once registered through kingsmountainartfair.org, participants will be redirected to BoothCentral when the show goes live. The page will have videos from the artists, the history of the fair, and testimonials on its importance to the local community. Participants can also filter categories, whether it be painting, sculpture or jewelry. Each “tile” is a virtual booth linking to the artist’s website. A key aspect of the fair this year, one both artists and organizers wanted to maintain, is the interaction between the artist and viewer. By clicking on the virtual booth, viewers can have a live video chat with the artists to learn more about their work.
“One of the things Kings Mountain Art Fair has been known for is being up close and personal with artists in the redwoods,” said Beverly Abbott, the fair’s executive director. “Of course, this year we can’t do that, but we’re hoping to create as personal an experience as possible. The artists are excited about this, and we’re excited about it as well.”
There is also a virtual information booth so anyone with questions about how to find certain art or artists can be connected to an online volunteer.
It’s an entirely new operation for both participating artists and the volunteers who run the fair. For one thing, they both had to learn how to operate the technology.
According to Abbott, volunteers provided technical support and help to accommodate everyone. As in years past, dozens of artists showcase a wide variety of goods. Many artists contributed videos covering their techniques and final product. For those curious to see what goes into an artist’s process, this medium provides an in-depth look not previously seen in years past.
“It’s not perfect; it’s an adventure,” Abbott said. “But I’m highly encouraged by what our artists are bringing to the fair, and what our volunteers are doing to support them and our customers.”
The volunteer fire department responded to 336 emergencies in 2019, according to a press release form fair organizers. With members of the Kings Mountain Fire Brigade assisting CalFire in the CZU August Lightning Complex, fundraising for the station has been at the forefront of priorities for the fair’s organizers.
These volunteers respond to structure and wildland fires, vehicle fires and hazardous material spills, among many other things. As Abbott explained, support for local firefighters has always been important, but this year, with smoke still billowing from burnt areas in the Santa Cruz Mountains, it’s more crucial than ever before.
“Our firefighters are also first responders for medical emergencies, accidents and many other things,” Abbott said. “Our little fire department is critical to community life and to the region we are part of.”