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At last year’s Art & Apples Festival, Paint Creek Center for the Arts Executive Director Tami Salisbury had her husband run around town to see how long waits were at local Rochester restaurants. What did he find? An average wait of two hours.

“That is not normal,” laughed Salisbury, who will be running the festival for the fourth time this year. 

Needless to say, the Art & Apples Festival, which spans over 30 acres at Rochester Park from September 8-10, has a pretty big economic impact on the Rochester community. 

Arts and Apple 2016 BCP 130

Last year, the Oakland University School of Business Administration did an economic impact analysis on the festival. Their findings showed that the attendance of approximately 85,000 people had an economic impact of $2.6 million on the area. Yes, $2.6 million over three days, and it rained on one of them, much like it did during the first festival in 1965. 

2016 Festival had an Economic Impact of $2.6 Million Over Three Days.

“Some of our artists said the rainy day was their best sales day,” Salisbury said. “They said it looks like the real art enthusiasts were out in droves during the rain because there were no crowds.”

Salisbury said that sustained sales is part of the reason the Art & Apples Festival has been so successful all these years, and why artists keep applying and wanting to come back. This year, PCCA received just under 700 applicants for almost 300 spots, and about one-third of the artists selected are from Michigan. The juried art show features 18 different mediums and is one of the largest in the state.

“I think that it’s well-managed, and obviously having a 52-year history is in our favor,” she said. “We also have the good fortune of having a lot of people in the Rochester-area community that appreciate art and purchase art.”

That appreciation for art is, after all, why a group of determined individuals came together and started the festival in 1965—including Dr. John Solverson and his wife Barb, and Nancy Bishop.

Arts and Apples Winners 2016 22Amy Ferguson of Royal Oak received the 2016 "Best in Show" award for her drawings.

In addition to Paint Creek Center for the Arts, there are about a dozen local groups, among others, who help sponsor the event, including the Rochester Kiwanis Club and the Rochester Jaycees, who have both been connected to the festival since the beginning. The city itself is also a huge partner for the event and will be honored this year.

As part of Rochester’s 200th birthday, and 50-year anniversary becoming a city, the Art & Apples Festival will have a giant mural set up in the kids art zone that guests can color on all weekend. It will be presented to the city at the end of the weekend.

While the art is one of the biggest draws for the festival, which PCCA plans for all year, there’s much more that happens throughout the weekend. Starting with the “apples” part of its title, which Salisbury said steams from all the apple orchards in the area.

“Everybody wonders, ‘Where are the apples?’” 

They can be found in the apple pies the Older Persons Commission and Boy Scouts always sell, and some “to die for” apple fritters sold by one of the food vendors. 

The festival also has music playing all three days, ranging from local high school marching bands to regional acts, and genres cover everything from Latin to Motown.

So what’s next for Art & Apples? Possibly an expansion.

“I’d love to see it be a little bit like Art Prize—a mini Art Prize if you will in downtown Rochester,” she said. “I think it would be great.”

For now though, they hope to see as many people as possible at the event. 

“It’s a feast for the eyes and a feast for the tummy, too,” Salisbury laughed.

Photographs courtesy of Paint Creek Center for the Arts.

For more information about the 2017 Arts & Apples Festival, which runs from September 8th through 10th in Rochester Park, click here.

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