The Lakeshore Art Festival wins the 2021 Pure Award

The Lakeshore Art Festival (LAF) was honored at the recent Pure Michigan Governor’s Conference on Tourism as the recipient of the 2021 Pure Award. 

The accolade recognizes Michigan tourism entities that have pioneered the incorporation of innovative and exemplary best practices in natural, cultural, and/or heritage stewardship into their daily operations. 

Carla Flanders receives the 2021 Pure Award from Dave Lorenz, vice president of Travel Michigan.

The annual art festival brings thousands of guests, hundreds of fine art and craft exhibitors, a multitude of food vendors, children’s activities, street performers, and interactive art installations to downtown Muskegon. 

Expanded reputation

Its reputation has grown beyond the Lakeshore. The festival ranks as one of the 200 Best in the Country by Sunshine Artist Magazine, has been recognized as People’s Choice Award: #1 Art Festival in West Michigan, and as one of the Best Art Fairs in America by

This year’s Pure Award went to the event organized by the city of Muskegon working in collaboration with the Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce, Visit Muskegon (Convention and Visitors Bureau), the Muskegon Museum of Art, and many local businesses.

The Lakeshore Art Festival draws thousands of attendees.

LAF is centered around positive social, economic, and environmental impacts that complement the revitalization of Muskegon as a tourist attraction and a great place to live, work, and play, says Festival Director Carla Flanders. 

“This collaboration was a conscious effort to help revitalize downtown Muskegon through investment, environmental stewardship, supporting the arts, and tourism. Before the pandemic, the festival brought in 50,000 visitors, diverting 10,289 pounds of material from landfills while providing more than $7 million in economic impact,” Flanders says.

Preparing for 2022

Flanders’ team has already begun organizing next year’s festival, which will take place in downtown Muskegon on the weekend of June 25-26.

Her team is already taking submissions for fine art or craft exhibitors. Applications are being accepted online only and can be accessed through Zapplications or via LAF is a juried show, with professional artists and fine art/craft coordinators serving on the jury and reviewing each potential exhibitor’s application before they are accepted into the show. No buy-sell items are allowed. 

Local and national artists are encouraged to apply. Exhibitor amenities include:
  • $3,000 in Fine Art/Fine Craft awards and Craft Market People’s Choice Awards. 
  • Extensive marketing and publicity, using online/print media, social media, industry trade publications, and a variety of other avenues. 
  • Vehicle access near booth site for easy setup and teardown. 
  • Private security patrolling the park and streets overnight Friday and Saturday. 
  • Exhibitor hospitality, which includes morning coffee, juice, water, and baked goods.
  • Friendly LAF committee member booth sitters for exhibitor breaks.

State grant

LAF has been awarded a grant of $17,500 from the state of Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs (MCACA). The grant was awarded through the council’s peer review process from among 594 applications in competition for MCACA fiscal year 2022 funding. 

Organizations receiving MCACA grant awards are required to match those funds with other public and private dollars. Local support of the project includes DTE Energy Foundation, Howmet, Nichols, Mart Dock, PADNOS, Blended Furniture Market, and many more. LAF also receives significant volunteer support from the community, with help from the United Way of the Lakeshore, local schools, and residents.

LAF features hundreds of fine art and craft exhibitors.

“These dollars are vital to the maintenance and growth of the Lakeshore Art Festival. The funds will help with event production and, in turn, add economic vibrancy to our community as we welcome thousands of exhibitors and guests to the Muskegon Lakeshore area next summer,” Flanders says.


Read more articles by Shandra Martinez.