June 27--The most beautiful thing on display at the Marblehead Festival of Arts, this and every year since 1962, may be Marblehead itself.
With a kite festival on Devereux Beach, musical performances and a film festival at Crocker Park, and art exhibits at some of the town's most illustrious historical venues, the festival takes full advantage of the natural beauty of Marblehead.
The fireworks and harbor illumination on the Fourth of July, sponsored by the Marblehead Fireworks Committee, will also use the harbor as a canvas, painting a breathtaking display on the night sky.
But that doesn't mean you would want to ignore any of the events or exhibits being held from July 3 to 7, starting with the unique lineup of musicians who will play throughout the festival at Crocker Park.
"We start with a blank canvas, which we paint every year with a variety of styles of music," said Brian Wheeler, who has been booking the event for more than a decade. "Our job is to bring performers that can touch people from 8 to 80."
The music begins Wednesday at 6 p.m. with a performance by Robin Lane, best known for fronting Robin Lane and the Chartbusters in the '80s, followed by Mamadou Diop, a West African rhythm guitarist and drummer who took home a Boston Music Award in 2011 in the world music category.
The next day, the strumming and singing continue with local performers taking the stage starting at noon, including Box of Birds, Addy and Julia, and the Lee Hawkins Trio.
"Addy and Julia are wonderful," Wheeler said. "They're two local Marbleheaders who started playing together a couple of years ago and have risen fast."
These two young ladies play a variety of folk and pop tunes and have recorded an EP, "Someday."
"The quality of their work, their harmonies, are intricate, sensitive," Wheeler said. "They can take a song and truly make it their own."
Thursday evening will include performances by the Squeezebox Stompers and local funk masters Big Ol' Dirty Bucket.
Salem duo The Dejas will play Friday during the day, along with the Show Team from School of Rock and Marblehead high-schoolers DJ and Friends.
They will be followed at night by some up-and-coming stars from Berklee School of Music: Bryce Milano, and Nick Hakim and Nadia Washington.
The music doesn't stop on Saturday, as Marbleheader Kat Quinn, who recently appeared on "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon" and has an EP coming out this fall, returns from New York to take the stage with students from the Marblehead and Salem School of Music and alternative rockers Future Archaic.
Saturday night will feature rock originals Ned and the Big Babies, followed by some sweet soul music by Jenny Dee and The Deelinquents.
Crocker Park is also the site of the film festival, which will start projecting its 13 short films at 9 p.m. on Wednesday.
There are a number of works by young filmmakers from Lynn's Raw Arts program, and prizes will be awarded for the first time, said festival organizer Mike Evers.
There is a first-time submission this year, "Bittersweet," from Keith Wasserman, who has a film production group in Marblehead. Nine out of 10 submissions are from filmmakers in Essex County, Evers said.
"A good number of them can reflect that personal aspect," he said. "We have one animation, 'Ballad of Chicken Soup,' I think people will have a good time with that. I think 'Beautiful' by Devyn Jaffe is a great piece of work."
Two free filmmaking workshops will be offered this year on separate days at Abbot Public Library, one on documentaries by John Bonner of Marblehead, and another on fictional film by Keith Wasserman.
The film festival will be repeated in its entirety on Friday and Saturday at 10:30 a.m. at the library.
Fine art, including painting, sculpture, photography, crafts and a few other media will be exhibited every day of the festival at King Hooper Mansion, Abbot Hall and several other locations.
For anyone who would like to watch art being made, plein air painters -- painters who work outdoors -- will assemble at Marblehead Arts Association at 9 a.m. on Thursday, before dispersing around Marblehead to paint its many beautiful views.
Writers take part in the Festival of Arts at Writers' World, which convenes workshops and presentations at the Unitarian Universalist Church, where writers also meet to read works and discuss craft at the Literary Arts Cafe.
An artisans' marketplace is staged on the grounds of Abbot Hall on Saturday and Sunday, showcasing jewelry and arts and crafts by 36 artisans from around the region.
Family events start Thursday at Devereux Beach where, in addition to making and flying kites, people can enter a sandcastle competition.
Model boat building will be studied, and a regatta will be held at Redd's Pond on Friday. A children's festival on Saturday morning at Abbot Hall will offer art and activities for children 10 and younger.
On Sunday, the street festival will close Washington Street to cars and fill it with performers, food and face painters.
If you go What: Marblehead Festival of Arts When: Wednesday, July 3, at 5:30 p.m. to Sunday, July 7, at 4 p.m. Where: Locations throughout Marblehead including Crocker Park, Devereux Beach, Washington Street, Abbot Hall, King Hooper Mansion, Redd's Pond, and other sites. Information: Almost everything at the festival is free. For a detailed schedule of events, and information about free trolleys running between parking at Marblehead High School (on Thursday, Saturday and Sunday from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.) and on all the exhibits and events, visit www.marbleheadfestival.org.
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