What the heck is Sawdust? And why do we talk about it so much?!

Katie Lund Drake Casting Co
Sawdust is, like, pretty cool. I've never seen anything else like it, but then again I didn't grow up here and I find myself being confused by a lot of California norms. Not in a bad way. It's more like, "Am I in a different country?" Maybe that just means I spent way too much time in New England? I get made fun of for my use of the word, sneakers. Nobody calls them sneakers here! What the heck!? I digress.

Walter Viszolay Sawdust Artist
Given the major transitions over the past two years, Sawdust has provided a small community for us and it makes the big, insanely populated metropolis of Orange County feel like home. Quite frankly, it makes neither of us ever want to drive beyond the confines of Laguna Beach. And why would anyone? IT IS SO NICE ALL YEAR LONG WITH MILES OF SANDY BEACHES... and a million restaurants, beautiful sunsets, small population, and a huge dog park for my fur child. But let me get back on track.

You could just visit Sawdust's website and read about the history of the festival but what could be more compelling than one of my nutshelled stories?

History Lessons by Katie

The festival started in 1966, making this year their 51st show which I feel is pretty impressive. The reason it started is because across the street, Festival of the Arts (a juried show that began in 1932) rejected a bunch of artists from the show in 1966. They decided to start their own show and prove to those fancy artists across the way that they embodied the true artist spirit and would not be rejected from showing their art to the world. After several years of changing locations, new leadership, yada yada yada... they got their show underway and became known as Sawdust Arts and Crafts Festival. Some of the original gangsters are still here!

orange sunshine laguna beachWhat you won't find on the official website are the O.G.'s stories of turning to art to get away from LSD, Orange Sunshine, and the brotherhood of eternal love. We've all heard stories here and there, or maybe watched a movie about Timothy Leary, but to meet these people is something else. They were part of this famed drug movement and really, just wanted to spread love, man! Peace, love, happiness, and VW bugs. But wait, this is real! They lived it and survived it, and are now part of yet another historical movement—SAWDUST! I could never be so cool.

So now it's 2017 and it's our first show and we're not even from the West coast, or even anywhere close to it. But these 209 artists have taken us in, accepted us as east coasters and midwesterners (don'tcha'know) like we had been here all along. And so back to my first (or second) question: why do we talk about it so much? Now you know. It is the reason we moved here, on a wing and a prayer, and it has proven to be a WICKED FUN TIME! Besides my heartfelt explanation of providing us with a sense of community, it is also hoppin' all summer long.

Art, Music, and Booze

In addition to the 200 booths full of arts and crafts, there are three separate stages with live music on constant rotation. There are various restaurants on the grounds including our fav G.G.'s Mediterranean (yummo), a saloon to loosen up those pockets, and on weekends when the super, super awesome bands play, there's lots of dancing! Locals come every weekend just to hang.

Douglas Miller Sawdust Artist

But What Else?

So there are cool things happening, but what else makes it cool? I will tell you. Every summer the whole show is rebuilt and will look different every year because each artist designs and builds their own booth. Drake Casting Co's booth is like a mile high. Not really, but it is 16 feet tall. Other booths have lofts and hiding areas (check out Walter) or crazy roofs. A couple have trees straight through them. And of course the entire grounds are covered in wood chips, aka sawdust.

I guess you have to be here to get the full experience. Better hurry 'cause it closes next weekend! Don't worry Winterfest is right around the corner...

Sawdust Art Festival Winterfest from Sparkle Films on Vimeo.

Gregory Lincoln Sawdust Artist Sean Hunter Brown Liquid Laguna Ryan Gourley Sawdust Artist

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