Highland’s Festival of the Trail focuses on art
Oct. 13 event was held on a beautiful fall day this year
Organizers of this year’s recent Festival of the Trail breathed a sigh of relief when they saw the sun shining brightly as they set up shop. But they did have a Plan B on tap just in case.
“Last year, we had really bad weather — rain, thunder and lightning, so we had to shut down,” said Julie Larsen of the Highland Redevelopment Commission, who worked with Highland Main Street to put the Oct. 13 event together. “This year, we were ready to move (to Zandstra’s Farm and Greenhouse on Cline Avenue) if we had to.”
Although the temperature was nowhere near the summer atmosphere visitors enjoyed just a week before, it turned out to be a beautiful fall day, not a hint of moisture anywhere.
Thirteen vendors lined Jewett Street, with a farmers market situated at the front of the action.
“I came to look at the art they advertised, but I had to stop and pick up a few veggies first,” said Lynn Jarmon, of Highland, as she glanced through the display of tomatoes, peppers and other items on the long table. “Then I’ll take my time to look through the art booths. I’m always amazed at what great artistic talent we have locally, and I’m sure I’ll go home with something for my home.”
A few t h i n g s h ave evolved since the initial event began five years ago.
“The festival changed its format to feature artists and art-related vendors only,” said Lance Ryskamp, Highland Redevelopment Commission assistant. ” This is also the first year that the festival will take place on Jewett Street. Last year’s event in the same location was rained out.”
In conjunction with the festival, an open house at the Highland Fire Station on Highway Avenue greeted hundreds of visitors.
“We just moved to Highland from Ohio and we really love it here,” Selena Richards said as her family took a break for snacks before heading to the fire station. “There’s always something going on and everyone is so friendly.”
Also on the day’s agenda was a Teen Art Show, staged inside the Highland Public Library on Jewett Street.
Regan Bianchi, of Gary, set up her display of colored-pencil drawings on the front wall of the library’s Community Room.
“This (exhibit) gives me a chance to exhibit my art, something I haven’t been able to do before,” she said. “I’m glad the library gave me this opportunity.”
Nine teenage entrants submitted 33 pieces of art, according to Sarah Mercier, Highland Library’s teen librarian.
“Our Teen Advisory group meets regularly, and they came up with the idea of offering the show,” she added. “We decided that it would not be a competition — just a showcase of the great local talent we have here — a place to express themselves.”
The purpose of developing an annual Festival of the Trail, with the location near Highland’s bike trail, was to attract more foot and bike traffic into the downtown area, according to Ryskamp.
“We would like to have residents and visitors come and enjoy local art, music and food, to see what Downtown Highland has to offer,” he said. “This (festival) was one way to reach out and do that.”
All of the downtown events on this day served as the finale to Highland’s observance of Downtown Development Week, organized by Indiana’s Office of Community and Rural Affairs, Ryskamp added.
Sue Ellen Ross is a freelance reporter for the Post-Tribune.
Lorrraine Brown, of Highland, right, and her granddaughter Kaylee, 6, of St. John, enjoyed the Festival of the Trail.