Sawdust Art Festival crowd

I happen to love my life here in Laguna Beach, but some days I REALLY love it. Each year, the Sawdust Art Festival’s “locals’ party” is one of those days. For us here in Laguna Beach, it signifies two things …

First, that the rogue artist element that established the Sawdust Art Festival 49 years ago is still as remarkable as ever – it’s a true testament to the amazing cadre of talent we have here in Laguna Beach. Limited to just Laguna Beach resident artists, this year’s Sawdust features 200 artists of every possible art media imaginable.

Second, the “locals’ party” reminds all of us that we really do live in a small town of neighborly love, even with 3 million visitors descending on an annual basis.

Star Shields airbrush work Sawdust Art Festival

The Sawdust locals’ party always occurs a couple nights before the Sawdust’s grand opening, and is open only by invitation from the exhibiting artists to their friends and family. So, each year, about 1,000 (or more?) people congregate for the pre-grand opening and it is one happy party.

friends at Sawdust Art Festival

We adore our artist friends, and we adore each other.  All evening long, it’s a whole bunch of friends and neighbors seeking out their favorite artists, rapping with coffee shop pals, dancing like crazy people to the live band, and hugging every other person that comes along because we all seem to know a whole lot of people here.

It is high energy cacophony.

John Barber glassblowing

It’s our first peek, too, at all the many individualized artists’ booths with their latest creations and newest treasures. (They’ve had an entire winter to come up with new stuff, remember.) Last night, with my good friend, Mary, in tow, we both bought gorgeous new shells from glassblower John Barber. There’s nothing like John Barber’s work, and we secured his schedule for his own demonstration days in the glassblowing shack. Then, I rummaged up my other two longtime favorite artists, Kirk Milette and Mike Brennan, to check on their stock and get their take on the upcoming season.

Patsee Ober Sawdust Art Festival

Mary chatted with Patsee Ober about her incredible underwater photos (unretouched!) at our own tidepools, and I sought out Drake Sawyer for a replacement of his famed “Laguna Wave” ring. We ran into Coco, keeper of the renowned toe ring booth and scheduled return dates per Coco’s days at the booth. Finally, we toured, row to row, for a quick look at thousands of handmade, one-of-a-kind treasures.

musician at Sawdust Art Festival

The Sawdust Art Festival is a must-see experience for visitors, yes, but it’s also a must-see each year for residents. While the long summer days of the Festival are usually a little quieter than the all-out party we had last night, its live bands, artist demonstrations, workshops and endless array of jewelry and art are a new discovery every single year.

Get your tickets in advance to avoid long lines at  Sawdust Art Festival Tickets. Hours are 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. from this Friday, June 26 to Sunday, Aug. 30.


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