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Published: Thursday, 6/21/2012 - Updated: 3 years ago

Crosby Festival of the Arts marks beginning of summer

Composition No. 1 by Robert Zollweg, who has been an exhibitor at Crosby Festival of the Arts for 40 years. Composition No. 1 by Robert Zollweg, who has been an exhibitor at Crosby Festival of the Arts for 40 years.

When Robert Zollweg first started showing his modern contemporary paintings at the Crosby Festival of the Arts 40 years ago, his decision to participate had more to do with camaraderie and artistic fellowship than it did commerce.

Fresh from a stint in Vietnam, he figured that if he was going to be an artist, then he needed to show his work, especially at festivals. He quickly found out that the older participants were generous with their time and attention, teaching him the subtle lessons of the craft.

"It really hooked me because ... you're associated with other artists and all of a sudden I'm in a group and they're teaching me things," he said.

Now, four decades later, he's the elder statesman but his reason for setting up at the festival this weekend is much the same as it was so many years ago.

"[My art] sells pretty well there, which is almost secondary to me, to be truthful, because it's not about the money. I paint and I sell my artwork, but I just want to be at Crosby," he said. "You're amongst trees and flowers and you meander around."

Zollweg, the corporate design and creative director for marketing and new product development at Toledo's Libbey Inc. is probably the artist with the longest-running record of attendance at the festival, said Melissa Shaner, the director of the festival that is held at the Toledo Botanical Garden.

Last year nearly 25,000 people attended the event at the beautiful gardens in West Toledo. This year 220 artists "from all four corners of the country" will be at the festival, displaying and selling their work, she said.

Visitors can stroll the grounds, which are part of the Metroparks of the Toledo Area system, eat food, and listen to music. A beefed up selection of music will be featured along with more activities for children, Shaner said.

"We really wanted to get people a little more of reason to hang out and make it more of a destination where you can see all the art, enjoy dinner, and hear all the live music," she said.

The event kicks off with a Friday night fund-raiser preview party that allows those who pay $75 a ticket to make a donation to the garden and get a sneak peek at the art, along with dinner. The party will be from 6 to 10 p.m.

"It's such a relaxed way to see the festival and enjoy the dinner, take a stroll through the garden when it's a little cooler and less crowded," Shaner said.

The Toledo Botanical Garden is at 5403 Elmer Dr. and it covers 60 acres between Holland-Sylvania and Reynolds roads. The West Bancroft Street entrance is closed during the festival.

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 Walmart parking lot, Central Avenue and Holland-Sylvania Road.

Tickets can be purchased at a $1 discount at The Andersons locations. Information: 419-536-5566.

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

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