Eye of the Dog Art Center will be surrounded by pickles on a stick, live music, dogs and the enthralling ceramic art community for the 13th annual Dirt Dauber Festival on May 20 and 21.
Since 2009, Billy Mangham, founder of Eye of the Dog Art Center and the Dirt Dauber Festival, has hosted the Dirt Dauber Festival in hopes of showing off San Marcos' ceramic artists and providing an event for artists and attendees to reunite every year and reflect on both pottery and community.
Although the festival went through a two-year hiatus due to COVID-19, the festival returned in 2022 and is coming back again this year stronger than ever now the national emergency for COVID-19 officially ended this month.
"The festival itself is something I look forward to every year," Kylee Barnes, music director for the Dirt Dauber Festival, said. "It's nice to be able to display my pottery and talk to people, make a little bit of money but mostly I'm just there to hang out with my friends that I don't get to see and listen to music."
Barnes grew a love for ceramic art in 2010 when she was attending St. Edward's University. After graduating and coming to San Marcos, she yearned for a place where she could relay her pottery art again. After attending the Dirt Dauber Festival in 2013 with a friend that encouraged her to go, she was enticed by the environment Eye of the Dog Art Center had and spoke with Mangham to join the team.
Now, Barnes is an artist for Eye of the Dog Art Center and has participated in the Dirt Dauber Festival ever since.
Mangham graduated with a master's degree in clay at Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, Texas. With the hopes to get out of Nacogdoches, Billy and his wife Beverly Mangham moved to San Marcos after their neighbor sold them three acres of land in 1989.
This gave the Manghams the opportunity to build a house and Billy's personal art studio, named "Sleeping Dog Studio", and to begin traveling around the U.S. to participate in art shows in Miami, San Francisco and Chicago. After their neighbor moved in the early 2000s, the Mangham's bought all 10 acres in 2007 to end their travels to art shows across the nation and begin their journey for Eye of the Dog.
"I just kind of ended up [in San Marcos] by chance but I really love it here," Mangham said. "I love the fact that it's a college town. There's a lot of good energy and of course the river and everything."
Now, Eye of the Dog Art Center offers workshops and classes for hand-building, wheel throwing and more while also hosting events like summer art camps, sculpturing rabbits and of course, the Dirt Dauber Festival. With each event, class and workshop offered, Eye of the Dog Art Center has only grown with more artists and volunteers to make the festival more entertaining and enjoyable.
"For us it has gotten smoother," Billy said. "I used to run everything myself and now we've got a bunch of younger people out there that are really enthused about the Eye of the Dog and about pottery and about everything creating things in general."
One of the long-time volunteers is Tawni Sheldon, an organizer that is contributing to a little bit of everything from communicating with artists to updating the art center's website. Although Sheldon isn't a ceramic artist herself, she became involved eight years ago when her husband, Rob Sheldon became an artist for Eye of the Dog Art Center.
Like Barnes, Tawni is looking forward to seeing friends that have turned into family, thanks to the annual Dirt Dauber Festival.
"I think we have a really awesome music line up this year, so I love that and just getting together with all the artists," Tawni said. "It's kind of like a reunion every single year and we just meet up with our friends which are more like family. It's just wonderful."
Billy is ecstatic to welcome new and returning attendees to the 13th annual Dirt Dauber Festival, but he advises attendees to carpool as parking is limited. The Dirt Dauber Festival will be from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on May 20 and 21 at Eye of the Dog Art Center.
To learn more about Eye of the Dog Art Center, visit its website at https://www.eyeofthedogartcenter.com/.
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