Summerfair, the annual arts show that features more than 300 fine artists and craftspeople, returns for another year at Coney Island. We spoke with Jayne Utter, managing director of Summerfair Cincinnati, about the event and the impact of the organization on the community.

What should people know about this year’s event?

It’s May 31-June 2 this year at Coney Island. We’ll have over 300 juried artists. It’s our 52nd year. We are open Friday 2-8 p.m., Saturday from 10 a.m.-8 p.m. and Sunday 10 a.m.-5 p.m. It’s all outside, it’s rain or shine.

It is a fine arts art show, but there’s a lot of stuff that’s affordable for anyone. There’s a lot of stuff that I wouldn’t touch with a 10-foot pole but I really like going and seeing it.

We do have a $10 cover, but that money goes with any money we make from our merchandise to support Greater Cincinnati arts and artists.

How did it start?

We got started in Mt. Adams. The people in Mt. Adams wanted to help support the opening of the Playhouse in the Park. They held this art fair on the streets of Mt. Adams and it ended up after a couple of years being named Summerfair. We went to Mirror Lake in Eden Park because it had gotten too big for the streets and [now] we’re at Coney. Coney’s the perfect place for us to be.

As a small 501(c)3 nonprofit, how are you making a difference in the art world in Greater Cincinnati?

We are a 501(c)3 nonprofit. Our mission statement is that we give back to the small arts and artists and arts organizations.

We support the Overture Awards that Cincinnati Arts Association gives out, and that’s high school students. We support our college students, arts students, at our emerging artists exhibition. We have the AIA, Aid to Individual Artists—working artists here in Cincinnati. We choose four per year to give funds to and then every three years we bring those winners back to show how they’ve grown because of the money we gave them. The next one of those will be at the Weston Gallery in March of 2020.

We also give to small arts organizations like music groups, men’s and women’s [art] courses, small theater groups [and] dance groups. We have $20,000 that we give out.

We have our poster competition, which has already been chosen for this year and the poster is the center of our advertising and merchandising for each year. We will be debuting that poster April 7 at Joseph Beth in Rookwood.

Then we also try to choose something large to do and this year we chose the Art Academy of Cincinnati. It’s their 150th [anniversary]. [We supported] their Regional Scholastic Art and Writing Awards.

Other than buying pieces at Summerfair, what other ways can Tristate residents support local artists?

We are a volunteer member group. I’m the only paid employee and everything else is done by volunteers. And we’re always looking for members.

During the fair we call them outside volunteers. With that you get into the fair for free. We’re also taking applications for that. All this can be found on our website summerfair.org.


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