The green grass and winding footpath in Bush's Pasture Park won’t be the site of the Annual Salem Art Festival this but Salem Art Association board member Judi McGavin is working to help create a virtual art festival. (Ron Cooper/Salem Reporter)

There’s going to be a Salem Art Fair this summer after all, but it won’t operate as it has every year since 1949.

The fair will be from the comfort of your laptop or cell phone or any other web access.

The virtual fair takes place Saturday and Sunday, July 18 and 19, with hours yet to be set, said Judi McGavin, a member of the Salem Art Association board. The group plans a two-day festival, but vastly different from the three-day physical event that typically draws about 35,000 visitors to Bush’s Pasture Park.

About 105 artists are expected to participate this year, and there is no charge to the public to take part.

The fair generally generates about $220,000, helping sustain the art association with a budget of just under $1 million budget. Because of the pandemic, the Bush Barn Art Gallery and Bush House remained closed to the public.

Closer to the art fair, shoppers can go to the SAA’s website,, and click on the link to the virtual art fair to get updated information.

What they will see as of now is an aerial overview of the park with icons representing different places at the fair, including the vendors’ market place, the children’s play area, the stage and the food court.

By clicking on the vendors’ site, a catalog will come up showing the work the artists have for sale.

“People can go through the catalog, click on the artists’ websites to browse and order,” McGavin said. “Artists will sell their work from their website or maybe on Etsy. The artists will pay a commission to the Salem Art Association for what they sell.”

A click on the children’s icon will bring up instructions for kids and families to color a Sno Cone. The drawings can be left at Bush Barn, where they will be displayed in the windows of the building. The work also will be posted online.

A decision has yet to be made about whether to offer music videos because of the expense associated with putting them together.

“We wanted to put on a fair this year because the board feels responsible to bring something to the community and to help artists who are losing their livelihoods because so many fairs around the country have been canceled,” she said.

The fair is just three weeks away, and “we’re burning the midnight oil to pull this off. Everyone involved has their shoulder against the wheel, and it’s been difficult because we all are working from home,” McGavin said.

Plans are still being developed about how to get the word out that there will be a fair, although virtual.

“We’re hoping to eblast, use social media, word of mouth, have board members put announcements on Facebook and place posters around town,” she said.

Because of the financial losses expected this year due to the fair being online and no paying visitors, an emergency funding appeal has been launched.

 Money raised will help run the association’s core programming, including arts education for school students from kindergarten to high school.

The non-profit Salem Art Association was founded in 1919 as the Salem Arts League. The group moved to its current location in Bush’s Pasture Park in 1953, when it became responsible for the care and operation of the Bush House.

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