LAKE CITY - ArtFields opened Friday with organizers hoping to build on the success of last year's inaugural arts festival. Again more than 400 works by artists from across the Southeast are on display in stores, restaurants, businesses and galleries in this old tobacco town.
Last year, an estimated 22,000 visitors attended the 10-day event pumping more than $5 million into the local economy. Festival Executive Director Karen Fowler said this season organizers hope for 30,000.
"A lot of people told us we didn't know what we were doing," in trying to bring an arts festival to a small farming community, she told reporters on Friday. "But we have learned so much during the past year."
The centerpiece of the event is the art displayed throughout town. Those attending get to vote on some of the winners who split $100,000 in prize money. There are various categories, some of which are judged by art experts.
More than 280 of the artists whose work is on display are from South Carolina. One of the goals of Artfields is to attract more artists from out of state, said Sandy Cook, the festival's fine arts coordinator. Artists from 12 states in the Southeast are represented this year.
Artfields takes its name from both the art and the fields surrounding Lake City about midway between Columbia and Myrtle Beach.
Lake City is the home of financier Darla Moore, who has donated millions to universities in South Carolina and is one of only two women members of the Augusta National Golf Club. She has been one of the key organizers of Artfields, which is also an effort to revitalize Lake City. It is modeled on ArtPrize, a similar event in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Moore has worked with foundations to restore the 1930s-era bean market building - once one of the largest markets in the world - into a community center. It's one of a number of new and renovated buildings in Lake City in recent years. A new hotel is being built on the town's main street and should be open in time for next year's ArtFields.
New this season at Artfields is a 62-page program that includes a photograph of every piece of artwork on display and the venue where it is being displayed. There is also a new winners' gallery displaying winning art work from last year. Returning is the popular "Before I Die" wall in which visitors can write on a chalkboard what they want to do before they die.
Artfields also includes music, a dinner with food from local farms, art workshops and farmers' and artisans' markets.
More info: ArtFields: http://www.artfieldssc.org
Karen Fowler, the executive director of ArtFields, discusses the arts festival with reporters in Lake City, S.C., on Friday, April 25, 2014. The second season of the 10-day arts festival opened on Friday featuring artists from 12 southeastern states among 400 works on display throughout the community that is home to financier Darla Moore. Many of the works are displayed in stores and businesses in the old tobacco town. (AP Photo/Bruce Smith)×
A mural promoting ArtFields is seen on a building in downtown Lake City, S.C., on Friday, April 25, 2014. The second season of the 10-day arts festival opened on Friday featuring artists from 12 southeastern states among 400 works on display throughout the community that is home to financier Darla Moore. Many of the works are displayed in stores and businesses in the old tobacco town. (AP Photo/Bruce Smith)×