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Pair of Laguna Art Festivals Offer Double the Diversion : Sawdust and Art-a-Fair Exhibits, Both in 23rd Year, Feature Variety of Items in Practically All Media

Well, it’s that time of year again for people who love to wander the booths of arts and crafts festivals, hands clutching fattening goodies, eyes peeled for handcrafted objects that simply can’t be passed up.

The Laguna Beach perennials, Art-a-Fair and the Sawdust Festival--each in its 23rd year--are neighbors once again at 777 and 935 Laguna Canyon Road, respectively. Both fairs feature items in virtually all media from quilts and toys to paintings and sculpture, and will remain open through Aug. 27.

Art-a-Fair offers work for sale by a jury-selected group of 160 artists and craftsmen, and by “celebrity artist” Red Skelton. Demonstration booths offer tastes of diverse media and techniques, including stone sculpture, paper collage, etching, watercolor, ceramics, oil painting and Chinese brush painting.

A major attraction is a motor-driven, 30-foot-long kaleidoscope with 9-foot stained-glass wheels; it’s billed as the world’s largest. Entertainment includes bluegrass, oldies pop, folk, reggae, Celtic and dulcimer music (“all upbeat,” according to a festival spokeswoman) as well as children’s activities. Refreshments are available.

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Art-a-Fair hours are 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays, 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. Admission is $3.50 general, $2.50 for senior citizens. Children younger than 12 get in free when accompanied by an adult. Group rates are available. For information, call (714) 494-4514.

The Sawdust Festival, Art-a-Fair’s wealthier cousin, offers work for sale by 220 artists and craftsmen on its landscaped grounds, which now contain several permanent California bungalow-style buildings. Sawdust is a non-juried show; artists are admitted on a lottery basis. More than 20 demonstration booths feature such activities as glass blowing, glass sculpture, leather working, jewelry making, portrait drawing and face painting.

Daily entertainment includes mimes, jugglers, magicians and numerous musical groups. The Young Artists Booth offers free arts and crafts lessons to children ages 6 to 12. Refreshments are available.

Sawdust Festival hours are 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays, 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. Today only, the hours will be 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Admission is $4 general, $3 for senior citizens. Children younger than 12 get in free when accompanied by an adult. For information, call (714) 494-3030.

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