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One of the many sculptures that grace the Hobart Urban Nature Preserve’s grounds. One of the many sculptures that grace the Hobart Urban Nature Preserve’s grounds.

Fine Arts and Crafts at Hobart Urban Nature Preserve

By Matt Clevenger

One of the many sculptures that grace the Hobart Urban Nature Preserve’s grounds.

Searching for the next Van Gogh or just a truly unique Mother’s Day gift? Fine artists in more than a dozen different mediums will gather at Hobart Urban Nature Preserve in Troy on Saturday, May 7, offering their one-of-a-kind works for sale during the park’s first-ever Arts and Crafts Fair.
Painters, sculptors, photographers and other local artists will be at the park from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., offering works ranging from paintings and photographs to jewelry, sculptures and stained glass. Admission is free and the event, which park officials hope will become a new tradition, also features live music and catering by LeDoux’s Restaurant in Troy.

“This is brand new for the Miami County Park District,” Assistant Education Director Tama Cassidy explained last week. “We’ve never attempted to do something quite like this. We had some vendors come in for our Fall Farm Fest two years ago; they enjoyed the park at Lost Creek, and now we’re giving them an opportunity to come to Hobart Urban Nature Preserve, where we have sculptures on display. It’s really fitting as an arts kind of environment.”

“We’ve always looked at this park as a really great place for an arts event because of the beautiful sculptures that are out there,” she added. “The vendors who came to Fall Farm Fest enjoyed the park and the setting so we decided to open up Hobart Urban Nature Preserve as another place to have an event where vendors can enjoy coming in and displaying their items.”

More than 25 different artists are already registered for the fair, with a heavy concentration in high-end arts and crafts items. “It’s going to be more arts,” Cassidy said. “There will be some crafts, but it’s more a fine art exhibit for people who appreciate finer arts and crafts.”

“This is a juried show,” Marketing Director Amanda Smith added. “Not just anyone can enter their arts and crafts. It’s more of a selective kind of thing.”
In keeping with that theme, LeDoux’s Restaurant in Troy will provide gourmet Cajun cuisine throughout the fair, offering a list of popular signature dishes from the restaurant including crawfish étouffée, red beans and rice, jambalaya and blackened chicken. For the more adventurous eaters, LeDoux’s will also be serving a traditional dish known as Bayou Trash, which features blackened alligator, crawfish and sausage served over rice.

“We may throw something else in there,” LeDoux’s owner Don LeDoux said of the arts and craft fair menu. “If there’s good weather, I’ll bring a grill out and maybe we’ll do pork chops or something like that, too.”

With approximately 15 years experience, LeDoux is no stranger to the festival circuit and, over time, his perfectly seasoned Cajun fare has become a well-known staple at many local events. “People can be kind of scared of Cajun, but it’s not really hot,” he said. “It’s seasoned for flavor, not for heat … it’s Hollywood that makes it fire hot.”

After their meal, guests at the arts and crafts fair can also take a tour of Hobart Urban Nature Preserve, a scenic, 82-acre park complete with 1.35 miles of hiking trails and a 3-acre pond for wildlife. First opened in 2007, the park was built on land donated by the Hobart Family and features sculptures from the collection of the Hobart Welding Institute.

“The park is almost a work of art in itself,” Smith said. “The Hobarts are very into the arts, and they have four welded sculptures in the park.”

Located at 1400 Tyrone St. in Troy, Hobart Urban Nature Preserve will host many other activities throughout the summer including nature times for toddlers, stargazing, an open-air flute concert on June 11 and a dog social “scavenger hunt” on August 21. Park officials also plan to make the arts and crafts fair a regular event, once they see how things go on May 7.

“It’s a brand new event,” Cassidy said. “I think people will really appreciate it, they just have to come and see it. It should have a great visual impact when they get there. I think they’ll be really happy to see all of these works and pieces out there.”

Hobart Urban Nature Preserve is located off Dorset Road in Troy, and the fair runs from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday, May 7. Admission is free, and more information can be found online at www.miamicountyparks.com.

Reach DCP freelance writer Matt Clevenger at MattClevenger@daytoncitypaper.com.

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