CHARLESTON — Eastern Illinois University’s Celebration: A Festival of the Arts attracted many diverse artists and performers over the weekend who showcased their wide variety of skills.

This is the fourth time Ted Siebert, a sand sculpture artist from Woodstock, Ill., has displayed his craft for festival goers at celebration. The first time he came to Eastern was in 1999.

“I like art festivals — there is more of a sense of community here,” Siebert said.

For his fourth time back at Celebration, Siebert said he decided to sculpt Eastern’s signature Old Main castle, in addition to the university’s panther mascot.

The sculpture took Siebert around 20 hours to master within the three-day window of the festival and was about 8 feet tall.

“I had high ambitions for this sculpture but then I forgot the sand wasn’t super strong,” Siebert said.

In order to make his sand sculpture creation, Siebert used mason sand, cement finishing tools and palette knives.

Siebert, a former artist for a book publishing company, has been in the sand sculpting business now for 24 years and has built hundreds of sculptures around the world.

“Part of the reason I love sand sculpting is that you get to work on such a big scale,” Siebert said. “I can do stuff pretty fast, and for some reason people love sand sculptures — everyone has dabbled in sand at some time in their lives, and people appreciate it.”

New this year was the dedication of the art fair to long-time supporter of Celebration and the arts, Doug Lawhead.

Lawhead, a network and computer specialist and photojournalism instructor at Eastern, died Aug. 23.

For three years prior, Lawhead set up a booth at Celebration and sold his award-winning photography prints to festival-goers.

This year, Lawhead’s family set up shop selling his photography in his memory.

“We are all honored that the art fair was dedicated to him — it’s the highest tribute,” his wife Marcia Lawhead said.

Marcia Lawhead said that for each photo of her husband’s that is sold, half of the proceeds will go back to helping to fund Celebration.

“You go from the man who was so honored and proud to do this to the man who is no longer with us, but I do feel Doug is here in spirit,” she said.

Throughout the three-day event, many fest-goers enjoyed the fair food, entertainment and art vendors.

Karen Hanfland and her daughter Sydney, 8, of Sigel basked in the nice weather of Celebration on Sunday while having some fun at the children’s art activities table.

Sydney designed a glittery purple cat mask at the craft booth.

“It’s fun; you can do whatever you want and make a mess,” Sydney said with a smile.

This is the third time the Hanfland family has attended celebration, where Karen said they enjoy the bands, arts and crafts, fair food and the warm weather.

“It’s a nice day and we have had a good time coming here each year,” she said. “It’s a good way to spend an afternoon with our family and a nice way to spend time with the community.”

Contact Bilharz at sbilharz@jg-tc.com or 217-238-6839.

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