An Occasion for the Arts to Bring 141 Artists to Downtown Williamsburg is your source for free news and information in Williamsburg, James City & York Counties.

27 musical and dancing performances will take the stage throughout the weekend, bringing a performance art aspect to An Occasion for the Arts. (Courtesy AOFTA)
27 musical and dancing performances will take the stage throughout the weekend, bringing a performance art aspect to An Occasion for the Arts. (Courtesy AOFTA)

Update 10/01/15, 7:45 p.m.: Due to two approaching storm systems, An Occasion for the Arts has been cancelled. Click here for the full story.

Original Post: An Occasion for the Arts is again preparing to take over Merchants Square.

Started in 1969, An Occasion for the Arts is a local nonprofit that puts on an annual art festival and competition during the first weekend of October.

As the event has grown both in terms of the number of artists it attracts and the crowds it attracts to see them, the local community has embraced it as a unique and exciting way to bring talent, culture and visitors to the area.

It serves as the cornerstone for Williamsburg Fall Arts, a six-week celebration of all things art in Historic Triangle.

The 46th iteration of this iconic two-day Williamsburg festival is preparing to brave the predicted rainy weather Saturday and Sunday, with more than 140 artists lined up to participate in this year’s event.

The selected artists were chosen from a pool of more than 300 applicants and they represent diverse art forms ranging from painting to sculpture to hand-crafted jewelry.

Five judges undertook a daylong deliberation to choose who would be invited to participate in this year’s festival, considering factors such as creativity, thought and intent behind the works of art, professional presentation and excellence in craftsmanship.

Even among a highly competitive field, nine local artists made the cut and will be present at this weekend’s festivities.

Art enthusiasts will have the opportunity to peruse and purchase from artists who have traveled from around the country, representing 29 different states. Many artists will be doing live art demonstrations, giving visitors a look into the artistic process.

On Saturday, judges will visit each artist’s booth to judge and select the overall winners in two-dimensional and three-dimensional art. Winners booths will be marked with ribbons for easy identification Sunday.

The two-dimensional art judge is Jeff Harrison, retired curator from the Chrysler Museum of Art, and the three-dimensional judge is Diane Wright, the Carolyn and Richard Barry Curator of Glass at the Chrysler Museum of Art.

In addition to an array of artists lining Merchants Square and the surrounding streets, the festival will feature two stages showcasing more than 25 musical and dance performances.

The City Center Stage will be located by the Williamsburg Regional Library and the Courtyard Stage will be behind Talbot’s and Binn’s. The morning hours of each day will feature performances with more kid-appeal, while performances later in the day will be more adult-oriented.

For the younger art fans, South Henry Street Mall will be this year’s Youth Art Venue, at which children can create masterpieces of their own at the Williamsburg Contemporary Art Center table. Additionally, teen artists from the local community will be giving demonstrations and Bubbles the Clown will be on site doing face painting.

The Courtyard Café, the official An Occasion for the Arts food court, will feature food from an assortment of Williamsburg restaurants as well as regional wine, beer and cider tastings. Participating restaurants include Berret’s, Carrot Tree, Paul’s Deli, Sticks Kebob Shop, Seasons, Whiskey Hill BBQ and Aromas.

With the size and scope of the festival increasing with each year, event planners are offering several new features to help art fans make the most of their time at An Occasion for the Arts.

The event’s official website offers a map and previews of some of the artwork so guests can plan their route and make sure they hit all the highlights, based on their personal interests.

Additionally, a new free parking shuttle will be available to transport guests to and from an auxiliary lot across the street from the Williamsburg Woodlands Hotel for easy access to the action. The shuttle will run every 15 minutes from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. both days.

Information booths along Duke of Gloucester Street and in front of the library will be handing out maps and event guides for those who prefer to plan their visit on the day of the event.

The booths will also be handing out passport books that can be stamped at checkpoints throughout the event, another new feature for 2015. Completed passports can be returned to qualify for entry into multiple daily drawings for $100 gift cards that can be spent at any of the artists’ stands at the event.

The festival is rain or shine and runs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Click here for more information.