Anacortes Arts Festival

Fifty-two years and counting


Joan Tezak is due for a break. And, after Aug. 4, she’ll finally get one.

In the 22 years since the longtime executive director of the Anacortes Arts Festival took the helm of the citywide celebration of the arts, the culturally focused soiree has gone from being a two- to a three-day event and has experienced unprecedented financial growth—which has enabled the Anacortes institution to contribute to the community that has supported it during its 52 years of operation. 

“The festival’s mission of fostering the growth of art-related opportunities and activities throughout the community has been well served under Joan’s watchful eye,”  Board President Teresa Kolp says. “She has been a woman of vision and vitality whose steady hand and guiding principles have grown the Arts Festival, every first weekend in August, into the massive event of today with over 240 artisan vendors, 30 food vendors, a fine art show and daily musical entertainment on two stages.”

Although Tezak will still be hard at work until the 2013 festival comes to an end—this year’s event takes place Aug. 2-4—her pending retirement means that, come next summer, she can take part in the Anacortes Arts Festival as a stress-free spectator instead of someone who spends the bulk of her summer dealing with the countless organizational hurdles necessary to pull off a festival of this size.

And even though Tezak has had lots of help from other Anacortes Arts Festival staff members—some of whom work year-round to ensure the success of the festival—and a horde of volunteers, the annual event encompasses much more than visual art, making the logistics that much more complicated.

In addition to the hundreds of jewelers, painters, woodworkers, instrument makers, sculptors, photographers, ceramicists, fiber artists, candle-makers and others who will be set up throughout the streets of downtown Anacortes for the duration of the event, the festival also features a “Juried Arts at the Port” exhibit in the historic waterfront Port Transit Shed Event Center, which is located at the far north end of the festival.

Once they’ve perused the works of the 40-plus highlighted artists at the main gallery, attendees can also view the genius of sculptors Tracy Powell, Deloss Webber, and Sue Taves at the Focus Gallery, as well as a non-juried “Youth Art Exhibition,” which shows of the talents of kids in elementary through high school.

Two dedicated stages will focus on artists of the more musical kind, and those who are wandering the streets can expect to hear everything from world beat dance music to indie rock, rhythm and blues, Latin grooves and jazz of many different stripes. Performance areas on 5th and 7th streets will also feature magic shows, jugglers, accordion purveyors and others.

And, because perusing art and listening to good music can make a festivalgoer both hungry and thirsty, those who attend the 52nd annual Anacortes Arts Festival can choose from among dozens of food vendors to sate their bodily needs. There’ll be a food court, a beer garden and a wine garden, and those who need a respite from all the excitement can chill out at any of the above for a while and recharge their batteries.

You probably won’t find Tezak lounging around sipping a glass of wine or beer, as she’ll likely be busy making sure the festival is progressing smoothly. Chances are good she’ll want to leave her legacy intact, and that means she won’t get a break until the festival comes to an end, and she can breathe a sigh of relief at a job well done.

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