December 29, 2017, Buford, GA — After 13 years of celebration, the Barefoot in the Park® Fine Arts Festival will be suspending its Festival in 2018. Founded in 2005 by Caryn McGarity, Larry Larsen, Doug Spohn, and Randy and Cindy Sutt, the mission of this event was to be a driving force for creating a quality arts environment across the community through advocacy, education, and financial support.
Over the years, the festival has showcased many forms of visual and performing arts, including dancers, musicians, singers, sculptures, three-dimensional art, chalk art, writing, a student art contest, and more. The festival has always been an event for the entire family, providing art experiences such as the Children’s Art Park, Student Art Exhibit, and the Adult Learning Village, and raised money for its scholarship programs through various auctions, galas, artist booth rentals, and the support of many generous sponsors. In addition, Barefoot in the Park has awarded grants to several organizations that support the arts within our communities, including Aurora Theatre, Gwinnett Ballet, Hudgens Center for the Arts, along with many individual student grants.
The decision to suspend the festival didn’t come easy. As Caryn McGarity explained, “We need as an all-volunteer organization to reevaluate and reflect on our successes over the last 13 years and how we can continue to impact the arts in our communities as we move forward.”
Barefoot in the Park has stayed true to its mission, awarding over $150,000 in scholarships to students and art organizations and inspiring many Gwinnett inhabitants to support the arts in our communities. As a result of its efforts, the organization has been recognized for its partnerships that have significantly impacted the local arts community. These recognitions and awards include Gwinnett Magazine’s winner “Among the Best of Gwinnett” in 2015 and voted “Among the Best” for “Best Local Festival” in 2014, winner of the 2014 “Community Impact Award for Community Arts Program” and nominee for “Community Impact Award for a Visual Arts Organization” in 2014, winner of the “Community Impact Award for Visual Arts Organization” and “Community Impact Award for Community Partnerships” in 2013, and nominee for the “Community Impact Award for Community Partnerships and Community Arts” in 2012.
“Barefoot in the Park has been a labor of love for all of us,” McGarity said. “We are grateful to have had the opportunity to share our passion for the arts with the local community over the years, and hope what we have started will continue to be a source of inspiration for others in the years to come.”
About Barefoot in the Park: Barefoot in the Park is a driving force in advocating arts education for all ages, promoting strong cultural development in our communities, and providing financial support for arts education and program development for both the fine and performing arts.