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Annual Front Street Festival Highlights Arlington’s History and Heritage
By Mark Fadden
Posted on October 02, 2017, October 02, 2017

Attendees at the 13th annual Front Street Festival in Downtown Arlington experienced a sample of the city's rich history and heritage through demonstrations ranging from blacksmithing to woodturning and by touring a one-room school house built in 1909.

Festivalgoers were also able to shop for unique handcrafted wares, such as blown glass sculptures and wooden bowls, and enjoy live music from local singer/songwriters during Saturday's family friendly event at Knapp Heritage Park.

Proceeds from the festival, hosted by the Arlington Historical Society, benefit the preservation of the Knapp Heritage Park and other historical Arlington landmark buildings. An estimated 500 people attended this year's event, said Geraldine Mills, Arlington Historical Society executive director.

UTA Glass was one of the vendors at the event, selling students' works of art that included pumpkins and flowers.

"We use these events as fundraisers for our program," said UTA Glass President Alex Lozano. "All of the money goes toward developing the program and to host visiting artists that teach their craft to our students."

Soyla Santos of Epoch81 was also there selling her watercolor and ink paintings along with handmade buttons and magnets. Much of her art had a paleontology theme to it.

"I focus on science and natural history with my art. I want to make those subjects approachable," said Santos.

Other artists in attendance were Angela Houk Walker and her husband David Walker of Houk Walker Originals. David Walker not only sold the wooden bowls and other wooden creations he made, but he also demonstrating the time-honored tradition of wood turning on his lathe. Houk Walker sold her glass artwork, including wind chimes and cheese and snack trays that were mainly created by a process known as glass slumping.

"Basically what you do is put a glass bottle in kiln and let it "soak" or just hang out in there for a while until it slumps down into a flattened object," Houk Walker said.

And it wasn't just art for the eyes that was on display. Local singer/songwriters Arianna Ortiz and Brian Bullard, aka the "Bitter Boar," played their original songs that highlighted the Americana, folk rock and country genres.

"It's great to come out to venues like this one that show people the history of their culture and hopefully our music does that as well," said Ortiz.

And speaking of culture, the Front Street Festival wouldn't have been complete without a visit to the one-room school house where UTA Art History Professor Cheryl Mitchell delighted attendees with stories about school days of the period, all while dressed as a pioneer schoolteacher. Some of Mitchell's tales included stories of how children as young as five and six years old would walk up to 10 miles to get to the school house.

Knapp Heritage Park, located at 201 W. Front Street, is open Saturday and Sunday from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. The park also hosts free blacksmith presentations on the last Sunday of each month. For more information on the park or the Arlington Historical Society, visit

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