After a three-year, pandemic-induced hiatus, the Orange County Fine Arts Fair returned this past week.
The Thursday-to-Saturday event at Orange County High School put on by the county school division kicked off on Thursday evening with performances from the Orange County High School drum line and color guard, who were joined by performers from Culpeper and Rockingham schools.
Friday night featured the opening of a visual arts exhibit with works from all nine Orange County schools, along with middle and high school choir and band performances.
The final day of festivities included elementary choir concerts and another chance for the community to view the visual arts exhibit. Art instructors from each of the schools provided crafts such as tempera paint “nebulas” and tissue-paper suncatchers for children to create with their families.
Jamie Howie, an Orange County High art teacher and head of the fine arts department, said she was glad to see a tradition continuing that has been around since she was a child in Orange County.
“This event has been going on in one form or another since I was a student myself,” she said. “Some years we’ve had it in different locations, but the goal has always been to bring together all of the schools in the district to showcase the talent and creativity of our students in the arts.”
Howie said that turnout to the event this year was higher than expected and she was grateful to see so many people supporting the fine arts.
“It’s been an amazing feeling just to see people coming together of all ages to enjoy art and to provide some beauty and happiness, which I think is something we’ve been needing for a long time. I would say it’s made my heart full to see this level of support for the students,” she said.
According to Howie, the ability of the arts to heal and foster resilience is something she’s witnessed personally in the time since the pandemic started.
“It’s so impactful to have the visual arts and the musical arts as an outlet for the youth to express their ideas in an environment where personal discovery is encouraged,” she said. “Mental health is such a huge issue in today’s world, and the arts have always been a source of healing.”
For those who wish to support the Orange County school division’s fine arts program, Howie said the most important contribution is simply showing up to events such as the Fine Arts Fair and other concerts and plays. Monetary donations can be made through the Orange County High Fine Arts Boosters and go toward future programming. For more information, visit the boosters Facebook page at www.facebook.com/OCHSFineArtsBoosters.