Bath Fest a forum for the original

Published 2:02 pm Tuesday, February 28, 2017

BATH — North Carolina’s oldest town and its annual festival is a celebration of the original.

Bath Fest started as a town “fun day” many years ago, but for the past 13 of those years, event organizers have put a dual focus on history and art. At Bath Fest, only original art and handmade crafts are on vendors’ tables.

“The original intent was to make the art high quality art — crafts and quality art. It’s not a juried thing by any means. We’re just trying to represent the needs of our artists to the best of our ability by not having a competitor reselling commercial items,” said Pheobe Wahab, one of the Bath Fest organizers.

The quality in past years has extended to natural bath products, hand-carved wood pieces, photography, embroidered items, “found” metal sculptures, hand-crafted furniture and handmade fishing lures, wreathes, pottery and more.

The festival, in fact, abounds in art. Visual art is represented in artwork from Bath Elementary School students. Each year, art teacher Ruth Miller works with a Bath Fest-issued theme and orchestrates art projects with students. This year’s theme centers around the centennial of U.S. entrance into World War I, which happened in April 1917.

Performing art is also represented at Bath Fest, in several forms. The Bath Elementary School chorus performs, as does the combined junior high school bands from Bath and Northeast Elementary.

“Oftentimes these students have just done Steppin’ Out, so their acts are already prepared because they work so hard on their acts for Steppin’ Out,” Wahab said.

More performance art includes live music by local entertainers, as well as living history vignettes for visitors to get a view into Bath’s colonial-era origins.

The art of the spoken word will come in the form of storytelling, courtesy of a Historic Bath Foundation grant, as an Outer Banks actor playing the role of a Chicamacomico Life Saving Station lighthouse keeper brings to life a World War I rescue story involving German U-boats off the North Carolina coast.

Representing the written word, Carol Dillon, the woman on whom “Taffy of Torpedo Junction” was based, will attend Bath Fest and speak about her childhood that inspired the World War II prize-winning book series.

Wahab said Bath Fest organizers have contacted past vendors at Bath Fest, but are always on the lookout for new ones.

“As long as they’re able to follow the festival specifics of original art and crafts,” Wahab said.

For more information or to download a vendor application, visit the Bath Fest website at