LINCROFT: ART AND MUSIC FEST IS A BIG TENT

Live artist demos are just some of the attractions at Thompson Park during Saturday’s Creative Arts and Music Festival.

While it doesn’t really qualify as a “best kept secret,” the annual Creative Arts and Music Festival in Lincroft does keep a bit of a low profile, relative to such  parking-lot-packers as last weekend’s Red Bank International Beer Wine and Food Fest.

But if your idea of a mid-spring’s afternoon is to enjoy a comfortably paced introduction to some of the Greater Red Bank Green’s  most inspired purveyors of sight and sound — mixed with ample breathing room, free admission, and plenty of free parking — then Saturday’s daylong happening at Thompson Park could be just the pre-season appetizer you’re looking for.

The annual event includes folksinger George Wirth among the entertainers.

Presented by the Monmouth County Park System (and hosted at the agency’s hometurf headquarters off Newman Springs Road) the event goes on rain-or-shine between the hours of 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. Condensed into a single day for 2017, the festival still manages to offer up a weekend’s worth of visual art, crafting expos and vendors, along with a Plein Air Painting Contest and a slate of nine musical acts, hosted in three barn/tent venues.

A strolling smorgasbord of nearly 30 creative individual artists and studios — including such perennial local favorites as Grace Modla, Michael Scherfen, and Mike Quon — will display their wares and vie for awards in a juried competition. Among the creative folk performing live art demonstrations in the park’s Creative Art Center studio and other designated locations are Greater Green fixture Gerda Liebmann, the Swiss-born multimedia artist who curates the monthly art series at the Oyster Point Hotel (and who will be offering a close-up look at her creative process between 1 and 2:30 p.m.).

Returning for 2017, and judged once again by Anthony Migliaccio, the plein air painting competition is divided into two groups: adults, and students of middle school through high school age. Competitors are asked to bring a blank canvas to be marked at the registration booth between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.  Artists must bring their own supplies and can create any landscape scene from Thompson Park in any medium during the festival, and each group will have a winner who receives a $50 gift certificate to Red Bank’s local-landmark art supply store Colorest (there is no charge for entering the competition).

Then there’s the soundtrack to the visuals: a full schedule of music makers who will be entertaining at the park’s Theater Barn, Activity Barn, and a Music Tent pitched for the occasion. Performers include longtime jazz-pop favorite José Loo and his band (Music Tent, 3 p.m.), dual headliners Dave Vargo and Kim Boyko (Theater Barn, 10 a.m. and 12:30 p.m.), and Shore singer-songwriter-storyteller George Wirth with Dan Toye (Activity Barn, 12:30 p.m.).

A detailed schedule of performers and a complete list of participating art vendors can be found right here — and more info can be had by calling (732)842-4000, ext. 4343.