First-ever Harvest Art Fest is coming to Shepherd

This weekend will be the first of many Harvest Art Fests for Shepherd High School.

After seeing success with the Artisan Row Makers Market at the annual Shepherd Maple Syrup Festival, Artisan Row Events co-organizers Dawn Vanneste and Mel Purdy approached Shepherd High School administration about organizing a fundraiser to benefit the Community Arts Support Team (CAST).

“I noticed last summer, they had a big semi-trailer in the parking lot, and they were in that big ole’ hot, stinky trailer collecting cans for a fundraiser,” Vanneste says. “I thought, well gosh, we can do something better than that for them.”

To give the fundraiser an art show style edge, Vanneste and Purdy decided to have artists apply to be chosen as a vendor at the festival. Of the 115 applications that were submitted, more than 70 artists were accepted and will be participating.

While the main purpose of the event is to raise funds for the school’s theater program, organizers say it’s also a way to support local artists. On Saturday and Sunday during the festival, the Arts and Wares Market will be set up in the Shepherd High School gymnasium.

Dubbed “Food Truck Alley” by Vanneste and Purdy, there also will be a selection of restaurants including Arnold’s, One Man Pizza Stand, and Zachzilla’s in the high school’s parking lot.

This past year’s Artisan Row Makers Market made $10,000, and Vanneste says they’re hoping to come close with the Harvest Art Fest. Plans to make the festival an annual event are already underway.

“Once I sat down and met with the principal and told her what our plans were and our intentions of doing this, she got very excited,” Vanneste says. “She would like to see this become an annual event for other groups that could use some financial help.”

Entertainment will also include a corn maze, food trucks, hayrides, and a tractor display. The weekend will conclude with the Harvest Parade which will begin on Sunday at 2:30 p.m.

For more information or to check out the weekend’s agenda, visit
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Riley Connell is a senior at Central Michigan University majoring in journalism and minoring in broadcast and cinematic arts. She has written for CMU's student-run publication Grand Central Magazine for two years and is now the editor-in-chief. After obtaining her degree, Riley would like to become a full-time feature writer. In her free time, Riley enjoys listening to music, trying new food, and collecting vintage clothing. She grew up in Metro Detroit and currently resides in Mt. Pleasant.