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  • Writer's pictureESSEX FREE PRESS

Art By The River returns to Amherstburg



by Garrett Fodor

After missing over a year of events and festivities, vendors and artists were invited back to Amherstburg’s waterfront at Fort Malden National Historic Site as a part of Gibson Gallery’s annual “Art By The River” event.

  The 54th edition of Art By The River looked different from past years. Event organizers and attendees adhered to COVID-19 precautions, including wearing masks, maintaining social distancing, and following one-way traffic flow throughout the vendor displays. In addition, food and entertainment were not offered on the grounds.

  “For me personally, my last show was December of 2019, so it has been 20 months since my last one,” Greg DeHetre said, who was a vendor at Art By The River. The local artist has been attending the annual event for years. “It’s nice to be back and just among so many other talented artists from Windsor-Essex, and as far as Toronto. There were a lot of familiar faces among vendors and even some new ones, which is great.”

  He was excited to have the opportunity to see some of his regular customers once again. The jeweller has been handcrafting rings and necklaces since 2010. He admitted he missed seeing the friendly faces of passers-by and showing off his work.

  DeHetre noted that prior to the pandemic, he attended approximately 23 shows, similar to Art By The River, each year. But when the pandemic hit, vendors may have struggled or may not have been able to pivot as well as other businesses with shifting to an online storefront. DeHetre said that sometimes customers like to try on products or feel them, something they could not do online. He is thankful to all of the volunteers for Art By The River and the Gibson Gallery, who helped put on the weekend festivities.

  “I think the team here at Art By The River has done a great job organizing this event and getting people back,” DeHetre said. “The crowd is similar to years past, everyone was wearing masks, using hand sanitizer, and the cleaning stations of were frequent. I think everyone felt safe. The heat and humidity did not scare anyone away, so it was great to see people excited to return to such a great event for the community.”

  Art By The River serves as the Gibson Gallery’s main fundraiser for the non-profit organization. The Gibson Gallery is open to the public, free of charge, and is run exclusively by volunteers and board members. It offers art and craft classes for children and adults and also offers local artists a chance to exhibit their work inside the 1896 railroad station the Gallery resides in. For more information about the Gibson Gallery, or their guilds and classes, visit its website at gibsonartgallery.com

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