About

The Brandywine Festival of the Arts is an annual arts festival in Wilmington, Delaware. Featuring hundreds of juried artists exhibiting one-of-a-kind art, the festival is a Delaware tradition spanning over half a century. Now regionally popular and nationally recognized, the Brandywine Festival of the Arts boasts participants from across the United States and perennially ranks in the top 100 shows in the country.

Each year, 20,000 visitors flock to Brandywine Park’s Josephine Gardens for an end-of-summer celebration. The BFA has something for everyone: 250 artists exhibiting in a wide range of styles and mediums, live music performances, children’s activities, and a selection of local food vendors.

History

The first Brandywine Arts Festival was held 1961 and was organized by the nonprofit organization Recreation Promotion and Service, led by "Big George" Sargisson and a cadre of volunteers. In the early days, it was a one-day event and with two-dimensional art and a bull roast. Participating artists hung paintings on clothesline and snow fence. Over the years, the bull roast was dropped, fine craft items were added, and artists began to use racks and canopies to display their work.

Big George, 1974

Artist David Burslem and "Big" George Sargisson, founder of the Brandywine Arts Festival, taken at the 9th Street Plaza in Fall of 1974. Thanks to Meg Little for the photo.


Over the years, the Brandywine Arts Festival increased in popularity locally and regionally. Visitors came from many surrounding areas and participants from as far as California. Many years boasted participants from more than thirty states.

After a hiatus, the festival changed management and name. The new Brandywine Festival of the Arts is under the management of Barry Schlecker. Keeping the original spirit of the art fair, Barry added live music, local food vendors, and children's activities. While it has evolved over the years, Brandywine Festival of the Arts still remains in Brandywine Park, its original location, and continues to take place annually on the weekend after Labor Day, which Brandywiners have come to expect and anticipate after 50 years.