Since its inception in 1969, Cottonwood Art Festival has been a popular fixture on the local arts and culture scene, drawing artists, art lovers, collectors, and creative minds together from all over the country.
Held October 5-6, the first full weekend in October (and again in May), the twice-yearly festival started as a free event for approximately 40 exhibiting artists. Today, over 11,500 artists have participated, and over 3.5 million people have attended the festival.
This year, Cottonwood Art Festival celebrates its 50th year with a bevy of museum-quality art, exciting live entertainment, local food and beer vendors, an interactive children's area, and more. Here's what you can expect to see and experience.
Soak up incredible art
Cottonwood is a juried art show in which nearly 1,500 talented visual artists compete to be one of the approximately 250 artists chosen to display their work before festival attendees. Given these high stakes, it's virtually a guarantee that you'll get to see some of the country's best artistic works (and even meet and talk with the artists) at the festival. For each juried show, artists exhibit their work in 14 categories, including painting, sculpture, leather, metalwork, glass, digital, ceramics, 2-D mixed media, 3-D mixed media, drawings/pastels, fiber, wood, and photography.
Jam out to live music
Visual art may be the main draw at Cottonwood, but the festival also features local bands and singer/songwriters on two stages throughout the weekend. Take a break from browsing the art to sit in the shade, relax by the lake, and listen to music at the lush, scenic Lakeside Courtyard.
Play at the Artstop Children's Area
Kids get to create their own masterpieces in the interactive children's art area, where they can choose between painting, yarn weaving, playing with mud, and creating clay sculptures and jewelry. With the festival's newest activity, Retro Rockets and Origami Bookmarks, kids can even craft their own bookmarks or engineer rockets in honor of the moon landing in 1969, the year that Cottonwood started.
Indulge in local brews and bites
Cottonwood offers a wide variety of tasty culinary treats and craft beverages. Food vendors this year include Big Shucks Oyster Bar, Conway's, Kona Ice, Mario's Gyros, Taste of Cuba, and many more. The Lakeside Courtyard, meanwhile, boasts an epic lineup of craft beer from Deep Ellum Brewing Co., Bishop Cider Co., Community Beer Co. and others. And don't forget that the early bird gets the mimosa: Mimosa Mornings start promptly at 10 am each morning; additionally, prosecco, wine, and margaritas are available.
Get the details
Admission to Cottonwood Art Festival is free, and the event is held, rain or shine, in Cottonwood Park. Parking is available across the street at the Richardson High School football stadium, and there's a (free!) shuttle between the lot and the festival grounds. Well-behaved pets are allowed on leashes.
Celebrate the big 5-0 with Cottonwood
Apart from showcasing local artists, musicians, and culinary vendors, Cottonwood will celebrate its 50th year with the unveiling of the There's An Art to Having Fun mural, which was created by community members and renowned artist Peter Tigler.
"While the art education programs, community outreach, number of artists, and crowds have increased, the up-close-and-personal attention from the artists and the warm atmosphere of Cottonwood Art Festival has remained the same," says Serri Ayers, superintendent of community events for the City of Richardson. "Looking back always inspires us to look forward with enthusiasm to the history yet to be written."
For more information on this year's Cottonwood Art Festival, head here.