An Occasion for art, music and good food

This year's An Occasion for the Arts festival will add The Williamsburg Symphony Orchestra to its swelling ranks of attractions.

The orchestra's recurring concert, "Symphony at the Movies," will feature works by film composers Michael Giacchino, Danny Elfman and John Williams. These composers have written the music to movies such as "The Incredibles," "Ratatouille," "Star Trek," "Batman," "Mission Impossible," "Spider-Man," "Jaws," the "Star Wars" series, the "Indiana Jones" series, "Jurassic Park" and the "Harry Potter" series.

Although this event will be ticketed, most of the festival that runs Oct. 6-8 is free and open to the public. Guests can peruse and shop from booths of more than 140 artists, watch live performances or wander North Henry Street tasting the festival's food, beer and wine.

Stuart Honenberger, president of the festival's board, said the event will feature old favorites and new talent for returning guests. He said the festival chooses the artists who attend through a rigorous application process and jury system, trying to ensure that about one third of the almost 150 artists are new each year. The festival chose this year's pool from more than 300 applicants, and the vendors will be traveling to Williamsburg from more than 20 states, Canada and Israel.

"It's a community weekend. I think it's a great opportunity for Williamsburg to celebrate Williamsburg," Honenberger said. "It's also a weekend to welcome into town a lot of visitors."

The festival is scheduled to include painters, glassblowers, jewelers, metalworkers, photographers, sculptors, woodworkers, potters, tailors and more as vendors. It will also feature youth activities and art from students at all of Williamsburg's and James City County's public schools and some of the area's private schools. More than 25 live performances will run throughout the weekend, including a show from the Virginia Regional Ballet. Honenberger also said guests could visit Blue Talon Bistro Saturday night for live music and to try hot dogs 40 ways.

Leo Charette, the festival's executive director, said the main purpose of the festival was to connect high-caliber, affordable art with Williamsburg's public – to support artists and make décor shopping easy for guests of all tastes.

To find specific styles of art, though, guests need to be able to look through all the festival has to offer. Honenberger said one of the reasons the board keeps the vendor number below 150 is to make the festival approachable for guests.

"It's palatable – it's doable, you can come down and see everything," he said. "At the same time, you could spend an hour at one jeweler's store … but there's not 150 hours in a weekend."

He recommended festival guests budget at least enough time that weekend to walk up and down both sides of North Boundary Street.

Want to go?

Event: Art and craft vendors, food, beer and wine sales and live performances.

Time: Friday music 6-10 p.m.; Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. with special events running to 9 p.m.; Sunday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. with music until 6 p.m.

Dates: Oct. 6, 7 and 8

Location: 134 N Henry St., Williamsburg

Cost: Free

More information: aofta.org/festival-guide/

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