Have you ever noticed when the name of your town comes over the air waves whether it be the radio or TV (even if it is for a weather report) you tend to perk up and listen? So that is what happened when RAW was mentioned while Husband Joe and I were in the car. The mention gave listeners what we already knew — that there was something special going to happen in Riverside.

RAW, which stands for Riverside Arts Weekend and not professional wrestling, is a two-day event on May 17-18 at Guthrie Park in downtown Riverside. The event is a juried art fair that will feature work in a variety of media and will be available for sale or just to enjoy while strolling through the event. Included in the list of happenings are music, a fashion show, food and beverages  All ages will find something of interest.

The setting of Guthrie Park is in itself an artistic setting, where it is not unusual to see someone set up an easel set up or sit with a sketch pad to capture the scenery. The area gives a panoramic view of the town’s historic and beautiful features, with the water tower,  library, train station, Arcade Building and Swan Pond among the focal points. 

One thing you may not know is that RAW was not the original art fair to take place in Riverside and in Guthrie Park. In the 1960s two enterprising young men of the village decided an art fair would be a nice thing to do. And so Moose (Clyde) Moravec and Michael West put together a very enjoyable art fair, which is what they called it, nothing fancy.  

It was not juried; it was very simple. Many artists were residents and set up their work for their neighbors to buy and enjoy. What was surprising for many was not being aware of the talent that many of their friends possessed. 

Many of the booths featured crafters working at their booths as people walked by. Moravec and West’s endeavor lasted only about two years, but was enjoyed while it existed. 

RAW is now in its seventh year and has moved around a bit, from Burlington Street to Quincy Street to Guthrie Park, and it has grown from a simple fair to a multi-faceted event encompassing all the arts. 

I don’t think either of the original art fair founders could have foreseen what their original idea has morphed into.