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Festival’s final days full of fun

The crowds keep on coming at the Festival of Arts.

Two events last weekend brought in a record number of visitors — a fashion show and a meet and greet with “Criminal Minds” cast members.

The upcoming Acura Celebrity Event on Saturday, hosted by singer-songwriter Richard Marx, is also expected to lure plenty of visitors to the festival, which ends its season Wednesday.



Re(f)use to Runway

The popular Festival Runway Fashion show, in its third year, drew its biggest crowd ever Saturday.

“Festival Runway Fashion has quickly become one of our most popular special events,” said Susan Davis, festival director of special events. “Participating artists are competing for cash prizes, but really what they want are the bragging rights!”

The runway show features designs by festival exhibitors created from at least 80% reused, recycled or reclaimed materials.


Artist Brad Elsberry won the first prize of $1,000 for the second year in a row. His bridal gown and train was made of clear, plastic dry-cleaner bags with a strapless, backless bodice overlaid with “lace” made from white metal hangers. Even the bouquet was recycled — it was fashioned from laundry tickets and receipts.

Erika Baldwin, who modeled the gown, unfastened the train on the runway to show off a mini-skirted dress that would be suitable for a wedding reception.

Second place went to Adam Neely for “Novella,” which was inspired by fashion magazines, the pages of which were folded into more than 1,000 fans that cascaded down the skirt. Alicia Chavex was the model.

Janet Lewis and Elizabeth McGhee won third place for their “Elizabethan Punk” design that re-recycled corks used in their 2010 entry. McGhee modeled.

Brittany Ryan’s entry mimicked her metal sculptures with gold-painted paper bags. Jessica Arsenian was the model.

Sophie Higuchi modeled Dagmar Chaplin’s “Sea Nymph.”

Robert Schock used items found at any construction site — caution tape, a parking cone and black plastic bags — to create his entry, worn by Laura Lavor.

Yael Resnick modeled “Singing in the Rain,” created by John Tolle from a shower curtain and scrunchy body puff.


Lou Bortone used duct tape, an old sheet and shade cloth to create “Festival Diva.” Leah Bortone modeled.

“I love this event on a million levels, but mostly because it showcases the incredible talent of our artist,” Davis said.

The fashions were judged by actress Marlee Matlin, Laguna Beach Arts Commissioner Suzi Chauvel and Nordstrom General Manager Robert Evans.

“Extra” correspondent Jerry Penacoli hosted.


Meet and Greet

Fans of the CBS show “Criminal Minds” flocked to the festival Saturday evening to get a close-up of the cast members.

More than 250 people were able to get autographs signed and their pictures taken with the cast in the little more than an hour allotted before they were whisked off to attend the Pageant of the Masters.


Additional fans clustered around the roped-off area where Paget Brewster, Joe Mantegna, Matthew Gray Gubler and A.J. Cook gave every indication of being as excited to be there as the fans were to see them, popping up from their seats to have their pictures taken or give a hug.

“The Pageant of the Masters is one of the highlights of my summer,” Mantegna said. “I’ve been attending for the last 30 years, and I will be coming for the next 30, at least.”

The meet and greet was the second visit to the festival for Cook and Brewster, and the third for Gubler, who was sporting a stylish haircut, but not the overalls he wore last year.

“Unfortunately, they were at the dry cleaners,” he said between high-fives with fans.

Brewster was amazed at the crowd, which ranged in age from a gray-haired lady in a wheelchair, to a toddler in a stroller.

“It’s a really creepy show, and we have 10-year-olds come up and say it’s their favorite,” Cook said, referring to “Criminal Minds.”


Red carpet event

The red carpet will be rolled out Saturday.

Richard Marx will host the Acura Celebrity Event, which will include a celebrity stroll on the carpet, a concert and a raffle drawing for one lucky guest to win an Acura ZDX worth $50,000.

Celebrities will begin arriving at 5 p.m. Television and movie actors expected to attend include Camryn Manheim, Jo Frost, Robert David Hall, Vanessa Branch, Joseph Mascolo, Dorian Harewood, Richard Karn, Brenda Strong andMarion Ross.

Marx will sing some of his hit songs such as “Hold On to the Nights” at a concert scheduled for 7 p.m. He will conclude the performance by pulling the winning ticket for the Acura.

“Acura has been incredibly generous,” said Sharbie Higuchi, festival marketing director, “and they deserve a great amount of recognition for their dedication to the arts.”