Two Lazy Daze of Fun

This year’s Lazy Daze Arts and Crafts Festival will double the fun in celebration of its 40-year anniversary!

Instead of the traditional one day of food, arts and community celebration, Lazy Daze will be two days long and feature more than 300 artists from 17 different states.

“Obviously the two days is the biggest change,” said Lyman Collins, cultural arts manager for the Town of Cary. “For many, many years people have asked why the festival can’t be two days and the main reason is that it’s impractical to shut down Academy Street for two whole days.”

Scenes from the 2015 Lazy Daze.

But as construction continues in downtown Cary, part of a revitalization project slated to be finished in early fall, Town Hall campus will host Lazy Daze for the second year. The location will leave Academy Street open and allow artists’ tents to be arranged in a circle instead of in lines.

The festival had 325 open spots for artists from across the United States this year, and 41 of those chosen by the Lazy Daze jury are local.

“It ensures a generally higher caliber of artist because they are reviewed,” said Collins of the jurying process. “Not suggesting that the artists not invited are not high caliber artists, but we have a limited number of spaces, and we had almost twice that many artists apply.”

The jury is comprised of artists, citizens and members of the festival committee. Once an artist applies, the jury reviews slides of his work and offers scores, which are then compiled. Collins says the level of competition depends on the art category.

“There are a lot of jewelers, there are a lot of potters. Something like sculpture or metalwork, we will have fewer artists applying. We want a balanced festival,” he said.

The first year of Lazy Daze, in 1977, saw 100 artists and a block of space reserved on Chatham Street. The proceeds from that first event went to buying a tent for the Town of Cary’s recreation department.

Over the course of the festival’s 40-year run, more than $650,000 has been raised and put back into the community.

“It’s something that we are proud of, that the proceeds from the festival go back into the community in the form of grants,” said Collins.

Programs and organizations like Cary Visual Art, Cary Players, Life Experiences and The Carying Place have been supported with the help of Lazy Daze, as well as projects like the Lazy Daze Playground at Bond Park.

“To go from a tent to a playground is pretty good,” said Collins, reflecting on the festival’s growth. “When Lazy Daze first started in the late ‘70s, Cary probably had around 10,000 people and now it’s got over 150,000, so when you have something like Lazy Daze that is a tradition, it connects us back to that community that we were, and reminds us that we are still that same community, and that community is important for us and to us.”

The 40th anniversary celebration will include five stages of entertainment, which will feature a wide array of musical styles, says Adam Bell, festivals and events supervisor for the Town of Cary.

“The EyeCareNC stage will host beach music artists, and the Mr. Roof of Raleigh stage will serve as the location for bluegrass, blues and jazz artists,” Bell said.

A Kid’s World stage will showcase kid-friendly entertainment.

To get to Lazy Daze, shuttle stops will be available at Green Hope High School and Cary Towne Center; this year, the drop-off point has been moved to the intersection of Chapel Hill Road and Academy Street.

Collins urges festivalgoers to take advantage of the shuttles, as downtown parking will be limited.

“It’s always important for the community to have opportunities to come together and to experience things together,” said Collins.

“It helps people feel that sense of community, and Lazy Daze has done that since the very beginning. That’s why it was created.”
Art, With Heart: Lazy Daze features artists from far … and near

Compiled By Nancy Pardue

The Lazy Daze Arts & Crafts Festival brings hundreds of artists to Cary. This year, they’re bringing their talents from as far away as Alabama, Indiana, New York and even California.

Among all these artists are 40 who keep shop right here in Western Wake. Meet a few of them here, then stop by and say hello while you’re enjoying Lazy Daze.

Kenneth Neilsen
Cary Pottery, Cary
Lazy Daze appearances: 5

In your booth: During the last Christmas season we developed a new style of altered torn vase that has been selling very well. We’ll have several styles of that and other fine art pieces on sale. And of course we will also bring lots of mugs and other functional houseware items.

Other jobs held: In high school I was a school bus driver; since I graduated in 1982, I have been making pottery full time. Potters wear a lot of different hats at the studio, so I have been a forklift operator, plumber, electrician, pipe fitter, welder, and general all-around inventor.

Favorite part of being an artist: Opening a kiln and finding that a new experimental glaze recipe turned out even better than I was hoping it would!

Your inspiration: Lately, I have been inspired by early 20th century art pottery forms, and pieces from such potteries as Rookwood, Roseville and Hull.

Memorable response to your work: I received an actual hand-written thank you note from Grant Llewellyn, conductor of the North Carolina Symphony, after he was presented with one of my larger art bowls.

Just for fun: Orange and white “road blocks” in honor of downtown Cary construction. Mostly it’s the local downtown residents who get the humor.


Marianne Smith
Ma Vie de Boheme, Cary
Lazy Daze appearances: Several

In your booth: I love to reinvent and re-create and recycle. My booth will be filled with reconstructed clothing that I make from sweaters and T-shirts that no longer have a home. Garments that were gently or greatly loved are turned into ponchos, skirts, tunics and coats for women, girls and even your furry friend.

Other jobs held: Make-up artist, corporate sales, creative director, substitute teacher. My most important job is being a mom.

Favorite part of being an artist: There are no rules. There is no right or wrong.

Your inspiration: I tend to see beauty in the simplest of things. I love fashion, as it’s such a visual language and a great way to express who you are. I guess that’s why most of my creations are wearable.

Photo courtesy Marianne Smith

Memorable response to your work: Bringing a smile to someone’s face is one of the greatest compliments. Having people spend their hard-earned money to purchase something I’ve created is an amazing feeling. A woman bought one of my sweater coats to wear for her wedding. That was pretty special.


Michele Yellin
Folk Artist, Cary
Lazy Daze appearances: This is the first.

Your art: I make brightly colored, textured folk art from new and reclaimed wood, paste, acrylic paint, bottle caps, buttons, beads, found objects and twigs. I make birds that hang on the wall, but  have started to expand my line to include elephants, rabbits and people.

Other jobs held: I have produced lamps in a small lamp factory, framed pictures, waitressed, worked in a dry cleaners, conducted telephone surveys, and worked in retail. I also volunteered at Cary Elementary School when my sons were young.

Favorite part of being an artist: The actual process of creating — drawing my ideas, cutting and sanding wood, applying paint, adding the components to the piece. I lose myself in the making.

Your inspiration: I like to see other artists’ work, especially in person. A short visit to an art museum or art gallery will get my creative spark going.

Photo courtesy Michele Yellin

Memorable response to your work: Years ago I donated a small ink and watercolor piece to an auction and later found out that the winning bidder redid her half bathroom, all the way down to the tile and fixtures, to go with her new artwork. That blew me away.


Robyn Johnston
Whimsical Robyn, Apex
Lazy Daze appearances: About 7

In your booth: Garden art pieces including my birds and owls, planters, garden stakes, picture frames, and fairy doors. Plus, some larger pieces not available on Etsy. I use old china, break it up and reconstruct it into a new piece. And all of my pieces have their own names.

Other jobs held: I was a veterinary technician for 30 years, and still work part-time.

Your inspiration: I’ve cared for so many animals for so long, each with their own personality, that in a way my art is a tribute to them. I’m also inspired by the medium, to take pieces that would be discarded and create something brand new. That it’s not perfect is what lends it personality.

Photo courtesy Robyn Johnston

Memorable response to your work: People smile as they approach the booth. Most say they’ve never seen anything like this before, and ask questions. Engineers and men who do tile work want to know how I do it. It’s nice to make connections. It’s an affirmation.


Keith Veronesi
Keith’s Woodwork, Fuquay-Varina
Lazy Daze appearances: This will be my first!

Your art: I work with over a dozen different species of domestic and exotic woods. I make everything from pens to cabinets, and turned items like bowls and peppermills, cutting boards, clocks, boxes.

Just about everything I make is one of a kind, simply because no two pieces of wood are the same.

Other jobs held: Network engineer, subcontractor, stay-at-home dad
Favorite part of being an artist: The craftsmanship. Scratch that … it’s buying the tools!

Your inspiration: Taking a pile of nothing and creating something functional or beautiful. Finding logs or cool exotic woods with rich color, mixing them together and seeing what happens. My inspiration comes simply from, “What if.”

Photo courtesy Keith Veronesi

Memorable projects: A woman asked me to make something out of an old door from her grandparents’ house. I made four wall shelves and incorporated old door knobs and cabinet pulls from the house. That was a special and rewarding experience.

When I’m out collecting logs, people will tell me they loved having that tree in their yard. I try to make a bowl from the wood as a thank you. It’s nice to see how appreciative they are for the knowledge that their beautiful tree is not going to waste.


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