AMBOY — The steady flow of Amboy residents ambling into Art Sidner’s downtown photography exhibit over the weekend were there to essentially look at themselves.
Sidner’s numerous digitally enhanced photos of local people at work and play were part of the annual Amboy Arts ‘N More festival that began six years ago as a way to introduce people to artistic endeavors.
It has since grown into an eclectic two-day event featuring a laid-back blend of artisan stands, food vendors, a farmers market and a parade.
There’s also off-the-wall fun, such as Dean Runge’s minnow-racing setup where all competitors win, even when they lose.
Eight, 6-foot sections of water-filled plastic rain gutters are used and kids “bet” on their favorite minnow.
The starting gates are opened and the minnows take off. Sometimes.
The children pay nothing to race, and each receives a dollar no matter how their minnow performed.
Said Runge’s pal Les Curry, “You don’t want a kid going home feeling like they lost.”
Runge said he doles out about $50 every year, the money coming from Amboy Community Club funds.
The festival is underwritten by a state arts grant. This year the event received $3,500, said Sidner, the festival’s featured artist for 2012.
Sidner said promotion of the arts — to the young in particular — is the event’s driving force.
“A lot of schools are losing their art funding, so kids don’t get that nurturing in the arts. We want to get kids stimulated and interested in their arts,” he said.
The festival concluded Sunday with events on the 540-resident community’s downtown Maine Street.
Yes, that’s spelled correctly. Maine was the surname of one of Amboy’s earliest families.