September 8, 2022

Penrod Arts Fair returns to the Newfields campus for 55th year


Penrod Arts Fair Chairman Ronan Johnson. - Taylor Bennett/WFYI

Penrod Arts Fair Chairman Ronan Johnson.

Taylor Bennett/WFYI

The Penrod Arts Fair returns to the Newfields campus on Saturday, Sept 10. WFYI’s Taylor Bennett spoke with this year’s chairman Ronan Johnson about what visitors can expect at the 55th annual event.

WFYI's Taylor Bennett: The Penrod Arts Fair is a local tradition for so many families. What can visitors expect this year running?

Penrod Arts Fair Chairman Ronan Johnson: Oh, man, if you've been before, I would say, take all the good things that you've had in the past, but then also take any of the items, you know, last year was one of our was our most successful fair financially. And with that, it was amazing.

But it also showed that there were some things that we could work on things to make patrons experience better. And so this year, we really focused on how do we address those items. And so we're going to have to add another gate so that folks can get in. We're doubling the number of volunteers that we have. So, we'll have 50 percent more food, we'll have 25 percent more drink stations and things like that. And really just trying to make it a wonderful day for everyone that comes.

Bennett: You know, you talk about the tradition, that it's been around for so long, and a lot of things have changed. What do you think makes this one so special, since it is one of the top art fairs in the country?

Johnson: I think a lot of it has to do with the community and the Indianapolis community as a whole. And as someone who's not originally from Indianapolis -- I moved here about 12 years ago -- I immediately noticed, when I moved here, how welcoming and embracing the community was. And I think this event, and this type of event just shows that in spades, because it's an opportunity for you to bring artists from all over the country here. And the city and the community of Indianapolis gets really excited, comes out and supports it, and just has a really great time.

Bennett: This is a fundraiser. So the proceeds from the ticket sales goes back into the community, correct?

Johnson: Absolutely. And that's something that we're trying to do a better job of highlighting. I think in the past, we've done a really good job of raising the money and giving the money out, but not necessarily of making it known kind of ... what the whole background, or the purpose of the mission of Penrod Arts Fair and the Penrod Society is.

So this past year, we had our most successful financial arts fair. And that led to us distributing this past spring over $275,000 to 70 Different organizations around Central Indiana.

So and we run the gamut because our mission is is to support arts, cultural and educational institutions. So it's everything from school systems to Boys and Girls Club, Big Brother Big Sisters, you know, ballet programs, choir programs, and really focusing on programming that wouldn't otherwise exist, but for the money we're giving this year.

Bennett: Penrod Arts Fair Chairman Ronan Johnson. Thanks for joining us today.

Johnson: Absolutely. Our pleasure.

Contact WFYI Morning Edition newscaster and reporter Taylor Bennett at tbennett@wfyi.org. Follow on Twitter: @TaylorB2213.

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