Artists from all over the country – and beyond – will descend on Worthington this weekend for the annual Worthington Arts Festival.
The two-day event, slated Saturday, June 16, and Sunday, June 17, attracted more than 330 applications for 125 places on the lawns in front of the Peggy R. McConnell Arts Center of Worthington, 777 Evening St., and Thomas Worthington High School, 300 W. Dublin-Granville Road.
The accepted applicants to the juried festival represent 13 states, as well as Canada and Belgium.
Last year's third-place award-winner was Mark Hilligoss, a Hilliard-based woodturner who makes intricate bowls and other "vessels" with a lathe.
He said he likes the fact the Worthington festival is more competitive than most juried festivals while still being a bit less intense than others.
"It must be a little competitive, because last year's winner was from Florida and the guy in second place was in Toronto," he said. "So it's like, 'Oh, man.' And here I am, a local guy."
But part of that competitive nature means the entries are not decided by geography, and that's why visitors won't see any individual Worthington artists participating in this year's event.
Jon Cook, executive director of the MAC, said it's "not a bad thing" that no Worthington artists made this year's cut. He said he thinks it was simply "the luck of the draw."
"The jurors choose a work based on the work, not based on the location," he said. "It doesn't mean that there are any bad artists in Worthington; it just may be that nobody applied, either. But it's a crapshoot every year."
However, the Worthington Area Art League will have a display at the festival.
Cook said he thinks that is a good way to get local artists involved without sacrificing the limited in-demand spaces simply to include someone from Worthington.
"Inviting the Worthington (Area) Art League to participate but not be part of the jury process, I think, is a good thing for us, as well," he said. "Their body of work as an art league is really good.
"But if each one of those individual artists had to individually apply to the show, I'm not sure they would have had a large enough body of work to show and sell. It's part of the competitive nature of the event."
For artists like Hilligoss, that competitive nature is a major plus. A retired accountant who started working on his art full time only three years ago, Hilligoss was new to the festival circuit. He said he knew the Worthington Arts Festival had "a good reputation," which helped make his third-place award last year a big deal for his new career.
"I had won a smaller award for a different show, but I think this was the first one for a bigger show that really kind of validated my work," he said. "I was really surprised. I never thought the things I did were art."
But at the Worthington Arts Festival, artists like Hilligoss are more than welcome.
Cook said festival organizers "try to get a good mix of media and artists on the field."
This year, that mix of media includes ceramics, glass, jewelry, leather, metal and "wearable art" in addition to such typical forms as painting, photography and sculptures.
That variety has helped increase the numbers of those who want to be involved, Cook said, and the extra demand of entries has helped improve the quality of the show without ballooning its numbers.
"Every year, that number of applicants increases slightly," he said. "But that doesn't necessarily mean that we accept all those guys into the show."
Whether it's caused by the quality of the art or the quality of visitors, Hilligoss said, he looks forward to the event because the people who come to the Worthington Arts Festival always are interested in the work itself, a quality he said he doesn't find at every event.
"In Worthington, they talk to you and engage," he said. "(They ask), 'How did you make that? How did you do it?' It's not a sideshow."
The Worthington Arts Festival is scheduled from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. June 16 and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. June 17. Admission is free. For more information, go to mcconnellarts.org.