In early 2011, the organization of the annual Bayfleld Apple Festival in October was well under way by the Bayfield Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Bureau. The event, which occurs on the first weekend in October (October 7-9 in 2011), has long highlighted the year of promotion for the Bayfield and Apostle Islands area. The weekend is capped with a parade and apple sales in every manner, attended by an estimated 60,000 visitors.
Cari Obst, executive director, made the decision to ask watercolor artist France Austin Miller to contribute her talents to the all-important poster, which becomes the symbol of the event each year. “We asked France to design and paint this year’s poster because of her incredible artistic talent and her knowledge of Bayfield and the Bayfield Apple Festival,” Cari told the Bayfield County Journal. “It certainly proved to be the right decision. Everyone who has seen the design has absolutely loved it.”
Having donated her artwork to the poster almost half-a-dozen times in the past, France says she was more than happy to take on the honor of portraying one of the region's premiere events. But, she says, it would take on a different feel than posters in the past, which have always centered on the all-important apple and the growers.
Instead, the plan was to honor all past festivals and the people who contributed the most to the celebration.
“When I think of Bayfield in the fall, it seems so red, white and blue with green trees,” France told the Journal. “It’s pristine and clarified. When I see the festival, I see how American it is with the plaid shirts, bratwurst, kids and tugboats."
France began the noodling process early in the year, collecting historic photos and remembrances from years past for inpiration, but the actual execution of the art was confined to a narrow period in the spring. While working on the project, France also kept track of her progress with a series of photographs that she shared with Lake Superior Magazine for this article. In the slideshow, you can follow from the earliest stages of design on paper to the completed art and the final poster, which was assembled for the Chamber by Printing Plus of Ashland, Wisconsin.
Framed and unframed posters are available for purchase online from the Bayfield Chamber sometime in August and will also be sold during the Bayfield Apple Festival. Lake Superior Magazine also provided a reduced-size insert of the poster into its August/September issue as a memento for its readers.
France's art can been seen at her studio outside of Bayfield on Ski Hill Road, or on her website www.austinmillerstudio.com and at many regional art galleries. For a quick look at several of her pieces, click HERE for a short slideshow.