This year marks two milestones for the Frederick Festival of the Arts: It is the last time the event will be held at Carroll Creek Park, and it will be free.
Festival organizers decided to eliminate the $7 admission fee to attract more people to experience the arts.
"Our mission is to promote and provide access to the arts, and there is nothing more accessible than free," said Jasmine Sneed, executive director of the Frederick Festival of the Arts, the nonprofit organization sponsoring the two-day festival, which starts Saturday. "We hope that by making it free our regulars will appreciate that, and we also hope that it will broaden our scope to others who have not previously been to the festival."
Plans are underway to transform the park, on South Market Street in downtown Frederick, into a mix of homes, restaurants, shops and offices.
But this weekend, at least 20,000 visitors are expected to visit the park for the festival's arts market, performances on three stages, the event's first storytelling festival, and beer and wine gardens.
"I think the festival is one of the most exciting regional festivals and is a great atmosphere for viewing art," said Washington Grove resident and printmaker Joseph Craig, one of the 135 artists who will be showcasing artwork.
Terry Andrews, a glass sculptor who lives in Ocala, Fla., also will be displaying his work.
"I like the Frederick area. It's a good crowd, and the town is nice," Andrews said. "The festival brings a contemporary crowd from the greater Washington region. Anytime I have an educated crowd, I do better."
The festival will take place from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and from noon to 5 p.m. Sunday.
Saturday performances will include music by Eclectic Instrumental with Cliff Art on the Red Stage at 10 a.m., followed by Alternative Klezmer with Alexandria Kleztet at 11 a.m.
On the Blue Stage, at 3:15 p.m., flamenco dancing with Arte Flamenco is one of eight scheduled performances. At 11 a.m., the Broseler School of Irish Dance appears on the Family Stage; the Shakespeare Project starts at 1 p.m.
On Sunday, the Mary Shaver Band performs at 1 p.m. on the Red Stage. A blues performance by Ray Kaminski and Jack Fretwell is set for 2:15 p.m. on the Blue Stage.
"When some people think of art, they think of a very limited scope, but they don't realize that art is far more encompassing than those traditional forms," Sneed said. "There is literally something for everyone. There is an enormous variety of work."
Professional storytellers from the mid-Atlantic region will appear Saturday and Sunday at the C. Burr Arts Public Library, 110 E. Patrick St., to share cultural stories from around the world.
At 10:30 a.m. Saturday, Ralph and Margaret Chatham will tell "Sea Stories." Linda Fang will share "Stories From Ancient China" at 1:30 p.m. Sunday.
For a detailed schedule of events, visit the festival Web site, www.frederickarts.org. For other information, contact the Frederick Festival of the Arts, 301-694-9632, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.