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Beautiful weather, eye-catching artworks, and thorough planning converged to make the 16th Annual Fall Art Tour weekend the most popular ever. An estimated 2000-plus art-lovers from near and far turned out to appreciate and, in many cases, purchase diverse works from the county's many fine artists. By all measures, it was an overwhelming success with both visitors and artists celebrating the tour's return after last year's hiatus due to the pandemic.
Despite continued concerns about COVID, the majority of the artists signaled their strong desire to proceed with the tour with protective guidelines in place. To avoid large gatherings, the traditional Headquarters Gallery and large pre-tour reception were eliminated. The Rappahannock Students Gallery was set up at the Washington School and opened on Saturday. Many visitors came to view the creative and compelling works from four county schools.
The experimental twist to the Tour was promoting the tour’s website as the virtual headquarters gallery with free admission. Many visitors planned their trips in advance using the artwork display, information and maps posted online. Printed maps were also available throughout the county. This new and different approach proved successful with the majority of artists and galleries reporting record numbers of engaged visitors and sales.
Now is the time to give thanks to those that made this extraordinary event possible through their steady and thoughtful efforts. First, to the artists and gallery owners who provided the art, venues and conversation that gave visitors such a rich and enjoyable experience. As a result, the first-time tour-goers will undoubtedly return to the county along with the long-time fans.
Credit for the organization, promotion, and logistics goes to members of the tour planning committee who worked as an effective team to bring the event to fruition. They are Barbara and Matthew Black, Patricia Brennan, Nancy Keyser, Ron Makela, Tod Morgan, Bill Pragluski, Andrea Salley, Ann Stenner, Charlotte Taylor, Jennifer Tepper, Joyce and Mike Wenger, and Vicki White. Special thanks go to Jennifer Tepper, our website and social media master, and Bill Pragluski, our graphics designer, who have both helped to gain a wider and more engaged tour audience.
Thanks to the Rappahannock's schools art teachers and students for their appealing works that were on impressive display at the Washington School during the tour. Their efforts show that there is up and coming artistic talent and creativity in the county's young residents.
Finally, we are grateful to the many generous sponsors of the tour who make it possible to produce this extraordinary event and support future artistic endeavors in the county. Our tribute to these individuals will run in the Nov. 25 issue of the Rappahannock News.
The writer is chair of the Fall Art Tour planning committee