New World Festival of the Arts was again a delight

By on September 3, 2017

At Carol Willett’s Creature of Imagination booth, Carol and husband Richard talk with Tatum Clements. (Kip Tabb)

The Manteo waterfront provides the perfect setting for an outdoor arts show. The 36th Annual New World Festival of the Arts in mid-August was proof of that.

Stretched along the Manteo marina almost to the Maritime Museum the 70-plus booths put an amazing array of creativity on display.

When Christmas Shop owner Edward Green introduced the Festival to the Outer Banks in 1981, he wanted to create a truly regional art show.


The festival has become all that Edward hoped it would be with exhibitors hailing from almost every state of the Southeast.

Five years ago, Edward handed the festival off to the Dare County Arts Council, and the DCAC didn’t miss a beat. The regional exhibitors are still coming but there are also a good number of Outer Banks artists on hand.

It is the diversity of the exhibitors and the traditions of the show that Louise Sanderlin, Gallery Manager of the DCAC believes makes the Festival special.

“To me, the New World Show is such a classic Manteo tradition. So many vendors look forward to visiting the area, locals and tourists always come back to see how each artist has evolved in their creativity,” she said.

Laurell James of Frisco, and here This Little Cottage Crafters booth.

The New World Festival is a judged show. This year Jennifer Hyde’s hand embroidered and stitched art that she creates in her Manteo Rose Rast Studio won best in show.


Each of her pieces, filled with vibrant colors, is distinctive, a reflection of her approach to creativity.

“I don’t plan anything or sketch it out first,” she said. “I have a concept and then I just let my creativity and imagination flow…and see where it takes me.”

She had gone home for the day when DCAC Executive Director Chris Sawin called to let her know she had won best in show.


“I had no idea what it was about and thought maybe he was calling me to tell me my tent blew into the sound or something,” Hyde said. “So when…he told me I had won best in show, I was totally taken by surprise and shocked, then totally ecstatic jazzed.”

“There was an incredible display of phenomenal artists at the New World Festival, so I feel truly honored to have won best in show,” Hyde added.

Painters seemed to be doing very well this year. Dawn Moraga, Reddawn Designs, was surprised by what she saw as a change in shopping patterns.

“People seemed to be buying the larger pictures this year,” she said. “It’s been a very good show,” she added.

James Melvin chats with a customer.

Perhaps the dean of Outer Banks artists, James Melvin has been a part of the NWFA almost since it began, and echoed Moraga’s thoughts.

“This has been a very good year,” he said. “There’s been a lot of interest in the art.”

It’s always interesting talking to the artists and finding how they found their way to their passion.

Jennifer Hyde told the story of visiting family in Austria with her parents and falling in love with embroidery and needle work. Glass artist Joshua Solomon talked about dropping out of college, discovering glass as an art form and going back to learn more about it.

Frisco native Laurell James brought her whimsical wooden sea creatures to the show.

“We had some scrap wood,” she recalled. “And I started working with that.”

The diversity of the show is remarkable, and that is what the festival’s organizers hoped to create—a celebration of art that would have something for everyone and maybe a little extra as well.

David Graves has been bringing his Spiral Flutes to Manteo for a number of years; it’s one of his regular stops on a circuit of art festivals he travels to from his native Florida.

His flutes are hand-crafted from native cane harvested in Florida. Carefully tuned—musicians are regular visitors to his booth every year—their sound is delicate yet rich.

“I like the town and I like the show,” he said. “It’s been good for us.”
Graves is not alone in coming back to the NWFA year after year. According to Sanderlin making Manteo and a few days in August is much of what make the festival so special.

“The community within the show and the loyalty to the show truly make it a success,” she said.

Judge’s Awards:
First Prize and Best in Show – Jennifer Rose Hyde, Manteo, fiber/jewelry
Second Prize – Sheila Nash, Norfolk, painting
Third Prize – Gregory Bryant, Norfolk, jewelry

Merit Awards:
Cammie Hall, Kitty Hawk, jewelry
Cyndi Goetcheus Sarfan, Kill Devil Hills, photography
Dawn Moraga, Kitty Hawk, painting
Laura Frye, Washington, painting

Recent posts in this category