Evolving ArtsQuest: Festival’s silver anniversary blends art, music and wine on May 10-12

Tracy Louthain, Special to The Log
Michelle Malone performing at 2012 ArtsQuest Songs on the Lawn.

With the silver anniversary a week away, ArtsQuest Fine Arts & Music Festival is set to celebrate this commemorative year with special events, more music and wine. Produced by the Cultural Arts Alliance of Walton County (CAA), the 25th annual ArtsQuest continues to evolve, embracing new elements, art forms and fans.

"ArtsQuest has evolved over the years and we always look for ways to keep the festival fresh while preserving the integrity of this respected annual event," said Jennifer Steele, executive director of the CAA.  "This year, we're excited to continue to enhance ArtsQuest's musical component with the Friday night concert at 'Back to Grayton' and 'Songs on the Lawn' concert on Saturday as well as special musical performances throughout the weekend."

Entertainment will be featured continuously throughout the festival on one of five stages. When the festival opens on Friday, the New Orleans Ramblers, The Steenos and The Blue Ribbon Healers will kick off the weekend. On Friday night, “Back to Grayton” will feature a live performance by Humming House at Hibsicus Coffee & Guesthouse in Grayton Beach. Kelsey Anna and Matt Miller begin the day on Saturday and are followed by diverse performances for all ages throughout Saturday and Sunday.

"In 2012, ArtsQuest added 'Songs on the Lawn' featuring Michelle Malone and David Ryan Harris," continued Steele. "Due to the popularity of the songwriter and supper club format, we wanted to bring back this element for 2013."

This year, "Songs on the Lawn" will be held on Saturday evening at WaterColor's Marina Park Amphitheater. The ticketed event features several artists who made their debut at the 2012 30A Songwriters Festival.  Returning to 30A for an encore performance, Cory Chisel and his musical partner Adriel Harris, and Asheville-based Kellin Watson will share their stories and songs with concert-goers under the stars.

With a heavy blues-influence, Chisel and Harris held audiences captive during their heart-felt performance at Bentley's in January and impressed fans with their closing rendition of “You Are My Sunshine.” Cory has been influenced by music greats, including Johnny Cash, Bob Dylan, Van Morrison, Leonard Cohen, Tom Waits, Sam Cooke, and Otis Redding.

Chisel's second LP, "Old Believers," has been described as rich, authentic, rock-and-roll, drawing a straight line between the gospel and blues of Cory’s youth and classic rock. The track "I've Been Accused" earned a spot on Esquire's list of "Songs a Man Should Be Listening To This Week." Chisel’s long time keyboard player and singing partner, Adriel, fits together harmoniously with his soulful style.

Also headlining the evening, singer-songwriter Kellin Watson brings elements of blues, pop, folk, and soul to the stage. Kellin draws on her Appalachian roots to bring both power and rawness to her music. She has released four solo independent albums, and has performed with a wide range of notable artists including, Amos Lee, Little Feat, Susan Tedeschi, The Duhks, Jessica Simpson, Sara Evans, Billy Corgan and The Crash Test Dummies.

A new addition to the long-standing event is WineQuest, a wine and cheese tasting. Chan's Wine World teamed up with the CAA to feature wine and cheeses from five of the world's top wine-producing regions — Italy, France, Chile, Spain and South Africa. The wine stations will be arranged throughout the festival and guests will have the opportunity to purchase a passport that may be used in a single day or throughout the weekend.

ArtsQuest will take place 4-7 p.m. on Friday, May 10, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. on Saturday, May 11 and 10 a.m.-4 p.m. on Sunday, May 12. Admission is free, but a $5 entry donation is suggested. “Back to Grayton” takes place Friday, May 10 at 7:30 p.m. at Hibiscus and is $10 or free for CAA Members. "Songs on the Lawn" will be held on May 12 at 7 p.m. and tickets are $20 per person for general admission and $300 for a VIP table for 10.  Picnic dinner baskets for 10 may be pre-ordered by calling (850) 231-7768 by May 8. (Coolers, outside food and beverages and pets will not be permitted inside the concert area).

Complimentary shuttle parking is conveniently located at Publix Super Market in WaterColor Crossings on CR 395. ArtsQuest is open to the public and will take place rain or shine.

To learn more visit www.ArtsQuestFlorida.com or call 850-622-5970.


Saturday, May 11 10:30 a.m, 1:30 p.m. — Basket Weaving with Carol Dickson 11 a.m., 2 p.m. — Watercolor with Sharon Long

Sunday, May 12 10:30 a.m. — Watercolor with Sharon Long 1:30 p.m.  — Basket Weaving with Carol Dickson