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Published: Thursday, 6/23/2011 - Updated: 4 years ago


Crosby Festival is 46-year tradition

Glass works by Steve Palmer. Glass works by Steve Palmer.

An ideal weather forecast.

More than 230 artists already lined up and ready to go.

A 46-year tradition.

And a setting that is one of the most beautiful in northwest Ohio.

Things have lined up perfectly for this weekend's Toledo Botanical Garden's Crosby Festival of the Arts at the lovely site in West Toledo. The combination of artwork and floral beauty is a stunning mix of man-made and natural artistry.

"Late June is an absolutely beautiful time of year at the garden and we have beautiful gardens in full bloom that people can stroll through when they take a little break from the hustle and bustle of the festival," said Melissa Shaner, the festival director for the past six years.

The event on Saturday and Sunday has come a long, long way from its beginnings in downtown Toledo, said Richard Boers, former city commissioner of forestry who helped create the festival and who is still actively involved in it.

Susan Gott and Richard Boers at a previous Crosby Festival of the Arts at Toledo Botanical Garden. Susan Gott and Richard Boers at a previous Crosby Festival of the Arts at Toledo Botanical Garden.

A decision decades ago to move the event to the Toledo Botanical Garden, which covers 60 acres on Elmer Drive between Holland-Sylvania and Reynolds roads, was met with skepticism, he said.

"A lot of artists said nobody will come out this far, but it turned out to be a tremendous success and has grown ever since," Boers said. "It's really a professional show at this point."

In the early years the "judging" to determine what artists would be permitted to show was notably unscientific. "Well, we'd look at it and say, 'This is art, you're in,'" Boers said, chuckling. "At the time we were a very small show and had only 65 people."

The event now receives submissions from 500 to 600 artists and only 230 receive permission to set up at the show and sell their work. Shaner said many of those who are showing their art have been at the Crosby festival in previous years.

"I love working with the artists and they are characters, to say the least. There are many of them who come back year after year and they love Toledo. It's like having a bunch of old friends come in for the weekend," she said.

The event raises about $160,000 to $170,000 for Toledo Botanical Garden, a nonprofit organization that operates as part of the Metroparks of the Toledo Area in collaboration with the city of Toledo.

Work by artist Steve Anderson. Work by artist Steve Anderson.

The festival will include music, food and drinks, and children's activities. A pre-festival gala Friday night is $75 a ticket and will include the unveiling of a Fiat car that is wrapped in one winning artist's art work. (Similar to the way TARTA buses are wrapped.)

The preview party will be 6 to 10 p.m. Friday at Toledo Botanical Garden, 5403 Elmer Drive. Tickets are available by calling 419-536-5566. The event allows participants to view the art, enjoy drinks and hors d'oeuvres, and mingle.

The festival is Saturday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is $8, and free for children 12 and younger and for Toledo Botanical Garden members. Free parking and round-trip shuttle service is available at the Wal-Mart parking lot, Central Avenue and Holland-Sylvania Road.

Contact Rod Lockwood at rlockwood@theblade.com or 419-724-6159.

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