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33rd Annual Midwest Salute to the Art

33rd Annual Midwest Salute to the Art

That’s right! For the last 32 years, Midwest Salute to the Arts has provided the St. Louis/Metro East area with outstanding art and entertainment. I can’t tell you how many artists have exhibited and sold their wares, nor can I give you an accurate account of just how many vendors have prepared food and served beverages.

I can’t even make an accurate report of attendance in three-plus decades. But I can tell you that from the beginning, this annual event has been a source of community pride and a place for art to flourish for children, adults, and everyone in between.

I was chatting with the director of Midwest Salute to the Arts, Sharon Kassing, and she reminded me of the mission for this event: to bring art to the people. So simple, right? “Art for everyone, art every day.” That’s something that we can all live with, don’t you think? The community needs this celebration, especially after the fall-out from the pandemic.

What happened to MSA in 2020?

Due to the pandemic the Midwest Salute to the Arts had a different look in 2020. No, it wasn’t canceled. It “went virtual,” just as many schools, universities, and businesses did. Instead of featuring the work of 100 artists, 50 were included. This isn’t to say that the event was “watered down.” It became more focused. 

Dates, Times, Locations…and what to expect

Please be sure to mark your calendars for the following dates: August 27, 28 & 29. These are the days that Moody Park (525 S. Ruby Lane) in Fairview Heights will be ground-zero for a free, family-friendly arts fest, complete with food, drink, and live music. Informational booths will be staffed by volunteers to help educate festival-goers on a variety of subjects. There is always a ton of fun for the kids, so you need to bring the whole family.

The Midwest Salute to the Arts is always one of the finest displays of art in Illinois. Expect to see 50 juried artists exhibiting and selling their work. Artist booths will be socially distanced this year for the safety of visitors, artists, and the volunteer staff.

With the changes to the layout, this year’s fair will be more spread out, more engaging; everything will be so easily accessible. The city revamped the venue into a horseshoe-shaped configuration with paved sidewalks.  Newly remodeled pavilions and a green space make this venue feel comfortable and open. Part of the point of art fairs is that the artist themselves are accessible for guests, as well as their works. But there are few art fairs anywhere where the participating artists are so very accessible as they are at ‘The Salute’.

Categories of art include:

Clay – Art objects, either functional or decorative of earthenware, porcelain, or tile, made by shaping and then firing. No machine-made or mass-produced work is permitted.

Drawing/Printmaking (Graphics) – Drawings are works on paper using pencil, crayon, ink, charcoal, pastels and a variety of other marking media. Printmaking is a transfer process of producing original art, usually in multiples.

Glass – Glass works that are functional or decorative by design and are kiln-formed or crafted by glass blowing, molding or casting. Works may be etched or engraved.

Jewelry (Precious Metal) – Creating artwork through the forging, twisting and fabricating of various precious metals. All jewelry, produced from metal, glass, clay, fiber, paper, plastic or other materials which include precious metals.

Mixed Media – Works that incorporate more than one type of physical material in their production.

Painting (Oils, Acrylics, and Watercolor) – Creation of a still life, portrait, landscape, abstract, or other image on a flat surface, with oil, acrylics, or watercolor.

Photography – Process of capturing images of objects by the action of light, then printing the images, by chemical or digital means, onto a flat surface.

Sculpture – Three-dimensional works done in any medium.

Fine Craft/Wood – Any material or construction may be used; to include fiber, hand weaving, wood, etc.  Art objects either functional or decorative or hand tooled or machine worked, turned or carved.

Here’s what to expect:

Friday, August 27
Rogers & Nienhaus – 6:00 pm – 9:00 am

Saturday, August 28
J. Michael Hildreth – 10:00 am – 11:45 am
Carrier Tunes – 12:15 pm – 2:00 pm
Don McCown – 2:30 pm – 4:15 pm
Dave Mendoza – 4:45 pm – 6:30 pm

Sunday, August 29
Lexy Schlemer – 11:00 am – 12:45 pm
Teya King – 1:15 pm – 3:00 pm
Mark Beihl – 3:30 pm – 5:00 pm

And the dates and times for this year’s celebration! Mark your calendars NOW.

Friday, August 27th 6:00 pm – 10:00 pm**
Saturday, August 28th 10:00 am – 8:00 pm
Sunday, August 29th 11:00 am – 5:00 pm

Also speaking of art, there will be two active Art Demonstration areas.  In one, you can find daily demonstrations by members of the Gateway East Artist Guild presenting a wide variety of artistic mediums and skill levels.  Also, you’ll find woodcarving displays and demonstrations by members of the Midwest Woodcarvers (aka: Belleville Holzschnitzers), plying their crafts of whittling, carving, cutting, and shaping of all things wood.  Plus, look for the Artisan Guild of Southern Illinois.  Guild Members at the demonstration area will share their fine craftwork, heavily rooted in heritage arts and fine crafts, such as weaving, spinning, needle crafts, leather, and pottery.

The second area is the Gesso Magazine Artist Demonstration Tent. Two or more artists at a time, rotating approximately every two hours each day, will display their talents in multiples of mediums – oil and acrylic painting, sculpture, graphite drawing, digital art, Sgraffito pottery and even painting with wine. The common denominator of these numerous artists is that each has been featured in Gesso Magazine, in print and/or online.

A brief history…

Just how did Fairview Heights become the site of a nationally recognized art festival? It began over 30 years ago when a former alderman, Gene Ellerbusch, took a trip to Mystic, Connecticut, which was hosting an outdoor arts festival. He was so impressed that he brought it to the attention of the makers and shakers in Fairview Heights.

After the council decided that their city could replicate the Mystic festival, they appointed Mrs. Billy McLemore to spearhead a committee to study the possibilities. The project had officially begun.

The committee visited/studied other festivals, including the Festival of the Masters in Orlando, Florida. Their decision was reinforced to go ahead with the planning of the first arts festival in Fairview Heights.

The Midwest Salute to the Masters was established with the goal of combining the community involvement of the Mystic festival with the high standards of the one in Orlando. The first show took place the week-end of October 1-2, 1988. It was well-received and attended by the community and the artists who participated. Thirty years later, the festival continues to draw thousands into the park.

Special features for the children…

An interactive Creation Station and Children’s Gallery will provide 5-13 year-olds with unique experiences. For example, when a young one enters the Children’s Gallery, he/she will choose a piece of art without any influence from parents. Then they will have a chance to have a conversation with the artist who created it. And, of course, The Bubble Bus will be there – a perennial favorite of children and adults alike.

Food and beverage…

But of course. No outdoor art festival would be complete without refreshments. Food Truck Row will provide patrons with a variety of delectables and imbibables for children and adults at this year’s event. All provided with due respect for the timely health and safety standards.


Do you like music? Who doesn’t, right? People come to The Salute and have interactions that generate engagement with art, be it something you can frame or something intangible. It might be no surprise then that a big part of the Salute’s legacy is founded in its musical guests. This year, all live entertainment will be on the Gesso Magazine Sound Stage. A wonderful variety of individuals and groups will perform there with 30-minute breaks between sets. (It takes a village to disassemble the equipment for one group and set up for the next one, by the way.)

So, mark your calendars for August 27-29 now. Make it a weekend of art and music at the 33rd Annual Midwest Salute to the Arts – truly an enjoyable way to invest in the lives of so many people. And let’s make the 33rd Midwest Salute to the Arts the best one yet!!!

** Please note that there are no activities for children Friday evening.

** Please also note that conditions beyond our control could essentially affect advisements on mask-wearing and social distancing. Guidelines from the CDC and the State Department of Health concerning Covid-19 and the Delta Variant will be posted and advertised. Please stay tuned.

Discover more about the Midwest Salute to the Arts on their website: You can also follow them on Facebook to stay updated on all of their latest developments. Gesso Magazine will be providing ongoing Facebook posts throughout the three days.

The Midwest Salute to the Arts is a 501(c) (3) Not for Profit organization.
Gesso Magazine is a Proud Sponsor of Midwest Salute to the Arts.
Paul Seibert and Mark Johnson contributed to this article.

MSTTA @ Facebook
Gesso Magazine @ Facebook

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