Local art festival celebrates eight years

sbirkenmeyer@vagazette.com

The 2nd Sundays Art and Music Festival unleashes creativity on the streets of Colonial Williamsburg 10 months out of the year, and June's iteration marked its eighth anniversary. Crowds flocked to see returning vendors, newcomers and an array of musical artists celebrating their art.

Shirley Vermillion created the festival after moving to Williamsburg from Seattle, which is steeped in art events.

"I just always wanted to share that with more people," said Vermillion, also a dental hygienist. "I love musicians. I love artists."

The inaugural 2nd Sunday filled one block of Prince George Street with a few vendors and one musician. Now, it spans several blocks of Prince George and North Boundary streets.

"There's something about being surrounded by creativity that just feels good to people," Vermillion said.

Joy Williams has set up shot during 2nd Sundays ever since she launched her girls clothing business, Giggle in Pink, in 2012.

"If there's one festival I can't miss, it's this one," she said. For much of that time, she's enjoyed the company of the same neighboring vendors. "It's like coming to see family once a month."

Williams said Vermillion is the key to the festival's continued success.

"Shirley does an amazing job of putting this together," she said.

It's something that impacts tourists and residents alike.

"It gives people something more than just the historic area and it gives locals more to look forward to," Williams said.

Eric Christensen owns Lokal, a new vegetarian restaurant on Prince George Street. He echoed the sentiment that Vermillion and her 2nd Sundays initiative are good for the city.

"I don't see the city council doing anything," he said. "We really need to work to be more competitive."

Sunday marked Christensen's first appearance at the festival, part of an effort to raise awareness about his new shop. He set up a tent across the street from its entrance.

"It gives us a chance to meet new customers," he said. "I think it's vital for the continued growth of downtown."

Vermillion estimated a range of 1,500 to 4,000 people attend each iteration, depending on factors like the weather. Sunday's 90 degree-plus temperatures might have put off some, but the streets were still filled with people and dogs.

"I love the mix of people," she said, pleased that 2nd Sundays attract a more diverse crowd than many other events in Williamsburg

Vermillion said she hopes to continue expanding the festival, potentially adding more street performers and food options in the future. For now, she's simply grateful for eight years of celebrating art.

"A lot of people don't know what to expect," she said. "It's just fun for people."

Birkenmeyer can be reached by phone at 757-790-3029.

Want to go?

The festival runs every second Sunday of March through December from 11 a.m.-5 p.m on North Boundary and Prince George streets. The next event is July 9.

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