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Shaker Heights Arts and Music Festival Draws Big Crowds, Pleases Vendors

Local entertainment, food, arts and craft scene a big hit for Shaker Heights locals and visitors alike

It’s hot today, and even hotter in the mobile kitchen, but one local food truck owner doesn’t mind.

“It’s warm, but we’re used to it,” said Athan Zarnas, owner of Cracked Mobile Foods. “We’re happy they’re (the customers) happy.”

Cracked Mobile was one of a handful of food vendors where people could take a break from shopping and grab a bite of local cuisine.

It’s still to early for a head count, but one way Liz Schorgl, president of Shaker Arts Council and co-organizer of the festival, gauges the success of Shaker Heights Arts and Music Fest is by the food vendors’ happiness.

“The fact that they want to come here tells me it’s worth it to pay extra people to work an entire weekend and pay us a fee to because of the visibility they’re getting,” Shorgl said. “We’re a little economic development center right here.”

The third annual festival is collaboration with the city of Shaker Heights, Shaker Arts Council and Ohio Designer Craftsman. It’s a two-day affair with live music and entertainment, food vendors and more than 150 artists’ booths.

“We’re exposing northeast Ohio to artists from across the country,” Schorgl said.

In the process, the community can escape from an afternoon of errands or chores and with the diverse vendors, get away without going far away — and maybe run into some familiar faces.

People come to this festival to see their neighbors, said Shaker Heights resident Linda Seton.

“You can tell people enjoy this festival,” said Seton, glancing at passersby. “The trick is to watch their faces and body rhythm. They’re happy, and they’re bringing their kids.”

Steady streams of people and even dogs filled the isles and booths while others sat and listened to the bands. Couples held hands or sat under the shade, children created clay masterpieces while others just took in all the sights, tastes and sounds.

Leah Gilbert, of the Beachwood Arts Council and a former jewelry maker, came by to catch up with vendors and customers. As soon as she said that, a woman greeted her in the street.

All socializing aside, she said she came to buy gifts for family and friends — and support local artists.

“The economy’s tough,” she said. “We have to do what we can to help the local artists out.”

Don and Serena David, of Don David Designs, said they like coming to this festival because it’s about 20 minutes away from their home.

“We go all over the place,” Don said, retrieving a glass pendant for a customer. “We go to as many local festivals as we can.”

The festival also attracts people from across the country.

Nancy Alberts flew in from Orange Park, Fla., to visit a friend, so a visit to the festival was a must.

“The artwork is very detailed, exquisitely done,” she said, adding she wouldn’t expect anything less from Shaker Heights.

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