On Saturday, thousands of people will again gather in the Village of East Davenport to make murals, big and small art projects and new memories.
In just six years, Village in Bloom: A Festival of the Arts has become a Quad-City tradition.
And, keeping with tradition, Donna Young, a sculptor and co-owner of Isabel Bloom LLC has a lot on her to-do list.
“It’s my vacation this week,” Young, who started the festival in 2013, said. “And I always spend it getting ready for a festival.”
Young wouldn’t have it any other way.
She started the festival in 2013 to honor the late artists Isabel and John Bloom, who lived in the Village of East Davenport for several years.
“I really wanted a festival to honor their legacy,” Young said. “They brought so much creativity to the area.”
Young saw their creativity — and learned from it — firsthand.
She joined the company in 1981 as a recent college graduate.
“I just thought it would be something fun to do while I figured out what I wanted to do,” she said. “I didn’t realize that this could be my career.”
She never left. Isabel Bloom became her friend and mentor as Young began sculpting in the 1990s. Young signed on as one of the company’s owners in 2011.
Along with honoring the couple’s memory, Young had another mission for the festival: “I wanted it to invite kids to experience art.”
During the “Life on the Farm”-themed festival, which is set for 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, festivities include a petting zoo, street acts (think: clowns and puppet shows and stilt-walkers), face painting, live music and an arts activities tent for kids. Plus, kids can work on a mural and draw on the street with chalk.
“By the end of the day, the road is covered with all these colorful chalk designs,” Young said.
Sculptures made by students representing seven local elementary schools will be on display. Students created the pieces from recycled materials and with the “Life on the Farm” theme in mind.
Currently, the sculptures are on display around the Quad-Cities at places such as the Isabel Bloom studio and store on Federal Street in Davenport, the Figge Art Museum and the Davenport Public Library on Main Street.
As Lynn Gingras-Taylor, the creative arts coordinator with the Figge Art Museum who has helped organize Village in Bloom since it started, said, “That’s a very special thing.”
“Students work collaboratively on one thing and thousands of people see it,” she said. “It’s their first exposure to having a show or a piece of art on display.”
Leading up to the festival, Young also led five high school students in a sculpture workshop and contest, in which the students had two weeks to create 6 inch-by-6 inch sculptures.
“It’s awesome,” Young said. “They enjoy it and I enjoy it just as much.”
Casey Rasmussen, a senior at North Scott High School, won the contest and her piece will be on display — and for sale — this weekend.
“It was a really cool experience,” Rasmussen, 17, said. “I always knew of Isabel Bloom, but I didn’t even know the building was right here. It was really interesting to learn the process.”
Last year, about 3,000 people attended Village in Bloom and Young hopes that number to keep growing.
“Every year you do it, more people start to look forward to it,” she said. “It starts to have a life of its own.”
One part she’s looking forward to? Spending it with her three granddaughters.
“We’re all born creative and we all have our own style. That’s what makes every person unique,” Young said. “I think that’s what makes this festival important.”