Rochester’s Art and Apples Festival may not be as well-known in Michigan as the Ann Arbor Art Fairs, but according to a new survey, it’s one of the best events in the country for artists.

The festival, which returns to Rochester Municipal Park this weekend for its 49th year, was ranked 14th in Sunshine magazine’s annual list of the nation’s best art fairs, released this month. The magazine rates fairs by the amount of revenue reported by artists. Art and Apples came in behind Michigan’s St. Joseph’s Krasl Art Fair on the Bluff (No. 10) and ahead of the Ann Arbor Summer Art Fair (No. 27).

“The average artist for Arts and Apples walks away with between $5,000 and $10,000,” says festival executive director Tami Salisbury. “We’re pretty excited because a lot of those in the top 20 that we’re ranked with are in Florida and California, and they have a little more reliable weather than we have here in Michigan.”

The festival is organized and sponsored by Paint Creek Center for the Arts, which offers art classes, galleries and a Michigan artists’ market just down the road from the festival site. The center derives 70 percent of its annual operating revenue from donations at Art and Apples (a $5 donation is suggested at the gate).

Of course, the festival also provides plenty for visitors to enjoy. Event attendance averages 200,000, and visitors will have more art than ever to take in this weekend. Thanks to a new online application process, Salisbury says the festival received 200 more applications than usual this year. Of the nearly 300 artists coming from 33 different states and Canada to exhibit, 100 are new to the event.

“That’s really exciting because it’s important to keep diversifying what is represented in the festival, so it’s fresh and new,” Salisbury says.

The festival will again live up to the second half of its name with an apple bake-off contest and cider, doughnuts and apple pie offered for sale. Meijer will sponsor a kids art zone, and Rochester’s South Street Skateshop will be on hand to help attendees design custom skateboard decks. Salisbury says the variety of activities attracts a broad audience.

“It is a Rochester-greater Rochester community event, but it really draws people from all over the metropolitan Detroit region,” she says.

Art and Apples also stands apart for its park setting, which Salisbury describes as “picturesque.” Paint Creek runs through the park, and trees offer attendees a bit of shady respite from the heat.

Rochester potter Wayne Andrews has exhibited at every Art and Apples festival since the event’s debut in 1965.

“The quality level at Art and Apples is pretty high,” Andrews says. “Ann Arbor, which I did for 13 years, has a lot of artists, but it doesn’t have the setup of Art and Apples, with the beauty of the park and the pond.”

Patrick Dunn is an Ann Arbor-based freelance writer.

49th Art and Apples Festival

4 p.m.-7:30 p.m. Friday, 9 a.m.-7:30 p.m. Saturday, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday

Rochester Municipal Park

400 Sixth, Rochester

$5 suggested donation

(248) 651-4110

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