GreatNews.Life Student Voices: South Bend hosts annual Leeper Park Art Fair

GreatNews.Life Student Voices: South Bend hosts annual Leeper Park Art Fair

What's recently happened?

The St. Joe Valley Watercolor Society held its 57th annual art fair this June, attracting artists and admirers to Leeper Park in South Bend. This was an amazing opportunity to appreciate the beautiful weather while enjoying a stunning artwork display.

Tents and booths were stationed at the park on June 15 and 16 featuring an array of creations from over 80 artists. Booths were full of multimedia pieces which included paintings, illustrations, photography, clay, woodwork, jewelry, and sculptures. 

Artists participating in the fair had the chance to win over $4,000 in awards for their work. Judges awarded Vladimir Pailodze with best of show for his paintings, Jesse Richard with first place for printmaking and drawing, Jessica Ladd with second place for painting, and Miranda Heward with third place for printmaking and drawing. Thirteen other artists also received judges awards, merit awards, and tent awards. 

Not only is the art fair a fun experience, but it's also a great way to support artists by buying their work. While some artists are local to South Bend, many travel to participate in the annual event and have their art included in the selection. The Leeper Park Art Fair allows creators to display their hard work and talents, bringing art lovers in the community together every year. 

What's coming up? 

This year the Fusion Fest will return to South Bend on September 14 and 15. The event will take place in downtown Howard Park and the surrounding streets. With no entry fee, anyone in the South Bend community is welcome to join the fun and experience cultural music, food, and performances. 

Last year the first-ever Fusion Fest kicked off the event with about 30,000 attendees and over 50 performances throughout the two-day festival. The event brought back South Bend's famous Ethnic Festival, which was well-loved in the community for over 20 years. 

“I am excited to revive and reimagine this vibrant festival in celebration of our diverse cultural backgrounds in the South Bend region,” said Mayor James Mueller. “The city team looks forward to bringing our community together for a fun-filled, two-day weekend with food, music, and activities for all.” 

Howard Park will have a stage and colorful tents for each region around the world: North America, South America, Africa, Europe, Asia, and Australia. Each tent will feature traditional dancing and music as well as food and art vendors.

The Fusion Fest returns to celebrate the traditions from places all over the world and showcase diversity within the South Bend community. With more than 50 vendors, not only will the event feature an arrangement of cultural foods and entertainment, but there will also be a variety of art, a ferris wheel, and a fireworks display. 

Community member spotlight:

Cheri Frickson has lived in South Bend for 73 years and attended John Adams High School. She was born and raised in South Bend and has been an important part of her community for over 50 years. 

Frickson has had multiple careers throughout her life. She began working at the Saint Joseph Health System in 1991 as an obstetrical technician where she assisted doctors during labor and delivery for 23 years. She also worked as a Doula where she provided guidance and support to mothers during their pregnancy. 

“I'm also a Doula. I coach moms through having a baby – from the time they walk in to the time they deliver, and then I was there the next day checking on them and making sure they were alright,” Frickson said. 

In addition to her contributions to the health system, Frickson worked for the South Bend Police Department as a crossing guard. For five years, she helped elementary school children cross the street safely. 

During that time, Frickson raised seven of her own children. While working late nights at the hospital, she made sure they had home-cooked meals and were taken care of. She and her family were well-known in their neighborhood for things like buying sweets for the kids and maintaining the nearby park.  

“All the neighborhood kids and I, as well as our kids, would go in and clean up all the glass, rake it, sweep it, and bag it up, and whoever helped out we went and bought popsicles for,” Frickson said. 

In her free time, she enjoys playing video games on Nintendo DS or Game Boy. Some of her favorite games are “Tetris,” “Castlevania,” and “The Legend of Zelda.” She is also known as a talented chef and seamstress, and she regularly spends time tending to her garden and pond.

After working hard all her life, Frickson has faced many challenges and learned a lot.

“You had to have it together. You had to be very organized for one thing,” Frickson said. “Save your money, buy a nice place, and just hoard it.”