Arts on the Green

Art festival organizers hopeful to hold event amid COVID-19

Event moved to July and to new location in
Crestwood this year

CRESTWOOD, Ky. (July 2020) – Like many other events, this year’s outlook for Arts on the Green was uncertain. Organizers have decided to continue with planning the event for July 25-26 at a new location – Yew Dell Botanical Gardens in Crestwood, Ky., rather than at is usual location around the Oldham County Courthouse square in La Grange. But they are aware that they must follow strict CDC requirements and guidelines imposed by Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear.


The event is presented each year by the Arts Association of Oldham County. It traditionally attracts thousands of attendees to the county in anticipation of the unique and distinctive artwork on display and for sale. This will be the 21st year for Arts on the Green.
“Because the situation is still fluid and contains many moving parts, the decision as to how we will proceed with Arts on the Green this year is still in discussion,” said the event’s director, Nancy Daneshmand.
“Based on the current information we have available, if we moved forward with planning, we already know that we will have to scale back our event,” she said. “This rationale is based on the total number of people who are allowed into Yew Dell at any one time. This number was originally set, at the beginning of June, at 150 by Yew Dell and was based on research officials there had done regarding how similar venues are moving forward and on how they can best adhere to the Kentucky Safe at Work Guidelines.”
Options for scaling back include eliminating the Children’s Art Contest area and activities, numerous artist demonstrations and live music. These changes, combined with a “one-way only” suggested walking path, will allow attendees to navigate through the festival grounds and artist areas without gathering in groups of more than 10.
Daneshmand said that organizers “have faced a couple of obstacles this year, including the need to find a new venue due to the scheduled remodeling, demolition and reconstruction of the Oldham County Courthouse on the square in La Grange and now the worldwide pandemic. But we are determined to make the best possible decision at the last possible moment so that we can have the most accurate recommendation, CDC requirements and information as to how it can be feasibly implemented at Yew Dell.”
There are many facets to consider, and she said, “We are keeping the best interests and safety of our artists and food contracted food vendors and volunteers in mind as well as the safety concerns of our community.” Attendees would be counted as they enter and exit, and if the event is at capacity, they will need to wait until other attendees exit.
“We are also in the process of writing a proposal of CDC Guidelines that could and should be implemented in order to make it as safe as possible,” Daneshmand said. “We are looking at steps and procedures other venues (who have had success) have taken, and are using them as a model for our process forward, towards trying to make this happen.”
Another point Daneshmand and organizers had to consider was when and under what circumstances Yew Dell Botanical Gardens would be allowed to re-open and what requirements would be in place for large groups.
Yew Dell is currently open to the public, but visitors must adhere to COVID-19 guidelines, which are posted on their website.
The event has been traditionally held the first weekend of June. “By the time we were able to make a firm decision to move to Yew Dell – after having researched all other potentially available outdoor festival appropriate locations in Oldham County – Yew Dell’s event schedule was almost completely filled with wedding or other events for most of the Saturdays and Sundays throughout June and July,” she said.
That left only two weekend dates for either the third weekend in July (normally Oldham County Day weekend) or the last Saturday in July. We felt it was in the best interest of our community that we accept and plan for the weekend of July 25-26 so as to not have a conflict with Oldham County Day.”
Oldham County Day has since been canceled for this year due to COVID-19. As of June 24, there had not been specific guidelines given by the state of Kentucky or the Oldham County Health Department as to an acceptable number of people to gather for botanical gardens and/or art festivals, said Daneshmand. “Yew Dell’s most recent interpretation was that 150-200 would be acceptable.” She pointed out that this number would need to include artists, food vendors, staff and volunteers.
“Our deadline for making a decision, and for artists to confirm participation, was pushed back to June 25, with the hope of having that number increased for the end of July and thus allowing a larger number of artists and attendees on the site.” She will be updating the Arts Association’s  website with any decisions or changes.
Based on the potential number of currently committed participants, there could be anywhere between 45-125 invited artists, food vendors and volunteers. “So, you can see why we are hoping that the number of people on-site will be quite a bit more than 150,” said Daneshmand.
She believes there will be a lot of support and excitement in the community for Arts on the Green this year. She cites reasons such as people being ready to get out and do something while trying to adjust to a new normal, and the many art enthusiasts who simply love to support independent artists and see and purchase original works of art in a festival setting. “The artists have had a rough few months, with some of them having every art fair that they normally participate in, canceled.”
This will be Daneshmand’s first year directing Arts on the Green. Last year she worked as Assistant Director under Mary Klausing, who had been director for the last decade.
Klausing said she “had decided to retire from the event in 2019 and had chosen Nancy Daneshmand as my assistant. She did a good job, and the board decided to keep her on director for 2020.”
“I had a great mentor last year,” said Daneshmand of Klausing. During that time, “she made sure that I was informed, prepped, practiced and ready to go. She was very thorough in providing me with guidance as I learned the steps, procedures and guidelines. I took very detailed and specific notes and had a good grasp of what the job would entail.”
Daneshmand has been a member of the Arts Association since September 2013. She joined when entering a few photos into one of their gallery shows.
She is a juried artist in Gallery 104, where she has artwork for sale.” While I love to experiment with and dabble in many different art mediums, my current art pieces in the gallery are some necklaces that I make from my alcohol ink paintings and resin.”
Daneshmand has a strong connection with Main Street and La Grange. In 2005, she took a family leave of absence from her teaching position with Oldham County Schools to help her mother, Mary Kinney, run her shop on Main Street, Mary Kinney Company. After one year she became a partner in the business.
As to the 2020 Arts on the Green, “I think if we will move forward with thoughtful and feasible consideration for the safety and well-being of our artists, attendees and staff, it will be an event that will draw our residents out and will help to bring a bit of hope and healing to our artists and to our community.”
She went on to say that, “Yew Dell is a beautiful gem in Oldham County, and I hope that our festival will help introduce a lot of our regular-devoted AOTG festival attendees to this incredible venue.

• To monitor the status visit: www.aaooc.org, Facebook or call (502) 222-3822.

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