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A photo of an artist using a wood-turning lathe at the Black Swamp Arts Festival

#TraditionsTuesday: Black Swamp Arts Festival

Entirely run by volunteers, the Black Swamp Arts Festival raises money and support for the arts in Wood County and beyond. Photo courtesy of the Black Swamp Arts Festival.The city of Bowling Green, Ohio, will erupt in color, food, music, and fun as the annual Black Swamp Arts Festival, an Ohio Arts Council grant recipient, takes over the downtown September 10-12. With free admission, this three-day extravaganza has something for arts lovers of all stripes. Entirely run by volunteers, the festival is not only entertaining, but also raises money and support for the arts in the area. Festival Chair Jamie Sands says there’s even more to it: “This is the most diverse weekend of the year in our area. We are providing space and opportunity to come together for positive representation and hands-on arts experiences for all.” 

A juried art show attracts more than 100 artists specializing in ceramics, textiles, printmaking, jewelry and more, and a special Wood County Invitational Art Show highlights local talent. Families can stop by the Kiwanis Youth Arts Village for hands-on activities, including making their very own Paper Sun Hat, a major festival tradition (some have even ended up on stage with the musical acts). A few blocks away, local students compete to raise money for their respective high school music and art departments in Beats on the Streets and the Bowling Green Rotary Art Walk.

The Artists at Work section gives festivalgoers a chance to watch the fascinating process of some local artisans. Fans of Netflix’s "Blown Away" can experience the intensity of glasswork up close with Fire Nation's Mobile Hot Shop. If you can’t stand that heat, perhaps a spin on the lathe with Woodcraft’s Wood Turners is more your speed.  Either way, you can watch some master artists at work and maybe even give it a try yourself! 

Cassie Greenlee says the festival has been a big part of her life experience. She started attending in her youth, while helping her grandfather, a local glassblowing artist, with his booth. Today, she volunteers as the chair of the Artists at Work Committee, a responsibility she is happy to take on, saying, “If you want it to happen, then you have to step up and be a part of the process.”

Visit to learn more.

Take up the #TraditionTuesday:

EXPAND: Get to know the artists before you go by checking out their websites and eStores. Visit for the 2021 artist lineup and links.

EXPERIENCE: If you can’t make it to the festival in person, you can still experience the art! The festival has a curated Spotify playlist featuring artists from the 2021 lineup, available here:

EXPLORE: The festival website is full of information for festivalgoers, including pro tips like:

  • Take the shuttle to make parking easier. 
  • Support the festival by stopping at the merchandise tents to buy official festival merch, including t-shirts, pint glasses, posters, and more.
  • Commemorative glass pint glasses hold 2 oz. more than the disposable cups offered at the beer trailers and cost the same to fill.

The Ohio Arts Council is a state agency that funds and supports quality arts experiences to strengthen Ohio communities culturally, educationally, and economically. Connect with the OAC on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, or visit our website at


Article by Amy Ruggaber, Ohio Arts Council Folk and Traditional Arts Contractor
Featured photo courtesy of the Black Swamp Arts Festival.

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