Twice a year, Richardson's Cottonwood Park plays host to an immensely popular free celebration of all the good things in life: art, craft beer, local music, and family fun.
The autumn edition of the Cottonwood Art Festival is coming up October 1-2, and to make sure you get the most out of your visit (or visits), we're breaking down where you'll want to be hanging out and why.
Throughout the park's main space you can view museum-quality works from 240 of the country's top artists and craftsmen. Cottonwood is a juried art show, meaning that more than 800 submissions were whittled down to this exclusive lineup. The artists compete in 14 categories — everything from ceramics and glass to painting, pastels, photography, and sculpture. There are even categories for such specialized skills as jewelry, leather, metalwork, fiber, and wood. Digital art and 2-D and 3-D mixed media get nods too.
Fine art and fine beer go quite well together, as evidenced by the rousing return of the craft beer garden. Local breweries such as Community, Revolver, Deep Ellum Brewing Co., and Rahr & Sons will be doling out pints for a price, so feel free to sip on a Blood & Honey or Ugly Pug as you take in the art. If you're looking to purchase a masterwork, however, you might want to save the beer for a celebratory toast after you've decided on a price.
Early birds get to partake in Mimosa Mornings, which begin at 10 am both days and offer up the delightful pairing of that quintessential morning beverage with breakfast tacos. Margaritas and wine also round out the variety of available adult beverages.
The festival is open 10 am-7 pm on Saturday and 10 am-5 pm on Sunday, so obviously you'll need to keep up your strength. Luckily there are more than a dozen delicious food options from which to choose, including some new treats this year. Mrs. Lively's Southern Cuisine brings a taste of Louisiana to Texas, with Cajun cooking that includes boudain, fried oysters, and catfish. Press Waffle Company and Jim & Lor's Candy keep things sweet with Belgian waffles, Belgian chocolates, and gourmet caramel apples.
These newcomers join authentic Greek gyros from Mario's, Alaskan reindeer sausage from Wild Game, barbecue from Sonny Bryan's, and sweet and savory pretzels from Texas Twist. Add in practically any caffeinated beverage you can dream up from Wound Up! Cafe, and you should be good to go for a few hours.
Even if you're ready to peruse the paintings and marvel at the metalwork, the kiddos might not be so into it. That's why they can make their own art in the hands-on children's section, where everything from designing tissue stained glass to creating a Crazy Cool Cap awaits. The canvas they paint today might even set them on the path to becoming a true artist — or, at least, end up in your ever-growing fridge collage.
Live tunes are a must at every festival, and Cottonwood doesn't disappoint with its diverse local lineup. Take a moment to enjoy the Southern-rock tunes of the Whiskey Prophets, Celtic classics from the Selkie Girls, a little '50s rock-and-roll from Sweet Crooner, or "vintage futuristic" music from singer/songwriter Kelsey Lewis. With two stages, there won't ever be a lag in entertainment.
For more information, visit the Cottonwood Art Festival website.