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Southern Mass. Arts Festival Steeped in Mansfield Tradition

The 18th incarnation of the event has even deeper roots.

The Southern Mass. Arts Festival in Mansfield has been a staple of Fall for nearly two decades now, and features local artists, music and food from around the region.

Ken Butler, of the , said he originally got the idea from a similar festival from his childhood.

"When I was a kid growing up in town, there was an arts festival run by the PM club," he said."It stopped in 1981."

Butler said the PM Club was a woman's organization in the town of Mansfield. He said that he was away from the town during that time up until 1989, when he came back to find something missing.

"I realized that I wasn't seeing the festival," he said. "When I started the MMAS, I asked someone when they were doing the festival and they said, 'Well there hasn't been one in ten years!' So I said well that's the first thing we have to start doing."

Butler contacted members of the old PM Club and figured out how to organize the festival, restarting an old Mansfield tradition in one fell swoop.

"The first year we tried to do, kind of a model of what they were doing," he said. "The next year, it kind of morphed into  getting more professional artists, fine artists form around the area to do booths."

This year features artists from around the area. There will also be a Taste of Mansfield Soup Contest, featuring donated entries from local restaurants such as , , Trattoria della Nonna, The Fresh Catch and many more. Visitors pay $5 and get to sample all the soups and pick their favorite.

There will also be live music at the event from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. during both days. The music selection will be varied; including big-band music to European Folk.

Artists already signed up with booths include Bill Chisholm, Beth Johnston and CJ Carr. There will be hand-crafted jewelry from Annie Prescott and Susan MacIntyre, photography from Dan Orfan Robin Sidwell and Kathleen Ezersky. There will local as well as amature artists displayed as well.

Registration for art pieces in the festival goes right into Saturday. If you're interested in signing up, contact the .

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