Carrie Rengers

Longtime Wichita art and book fair to end

There are two milestones with the Friends of the Wichita Art Museum Art & Book Fair this year.

The fair is turning 60, and this year’s event also is the last.

“Just like the rotary phone, the Edsel and Chatty Cathy dolls, a lot of what was around in 1959 has changed,” said Jill Miller, the fair’s co-chairwoman.

“It’s just time to do something new. It’s time to shake things up. . . . Sixty years is long enough to do anything.”

The annual Mother’s Day fundraiser is “a huge event to put on,” Miller said. “And we’re tired.”

She said that “it’s just getting harder and harder” to lure artists for the event since so many of them now sell their works online instead of at fairs.

However, book sales will continue with monthly events and “a big book sale” once a year, Miller said.

“It’s just a really great fundraiser because people donate the books.”

She said some people think no one likes to read books anymore, but judging by WAM’s book sales, “You sure can’t tell it.”

In addition to continuing book sales, Miller said the board is working on a new fundraiser — something that’s more of a modern approach with what’s popular today — to replace the fair but is not prepared to share details yet.

The fair started at WAM but then moved to Century II and eventually became part of Riverfest before moving back to the museum three years ago.

“People had lost track what it was even a fundraiser for,” Miller said.

She said some people didn’t even know it was a fundraiser.

This year’s event is from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. May 11 and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. May 12. The event and museum exhibits, excluding the new Georgia O’Keeffe exhibit, are free.

Miller said there will be lots of entertainment, such as music and belly dancing, along with food trucks. The event will be “all over” the museum.

For the final fair, she said, “We’re blowing it out this year.”