The purpose of the Texas Arts and Crafts Educational Foundation, Inc., a non-profit 501(c)3 organization, is to promote appreciation of fine arts and craft skills and create educational opportunities in the visual and creative arts in the State of Texas.
In 1970, the Texas Tourist Development Agency (TTDA) began the search for the perfect setting to hold a Texas State Arts & Crafts Fair. Kerrville was chosen and plans were underway for the first Fair to be held on Memorial Day Weekend, 1972, on the campus of Schreiner College.
The TTDA, under the direction of Phil Davis, ran the Fair for three years. A committee, headed by Kerrville’s Gene Lehmann, was formed to work with and observe Fair operations. In 1975, after three very successful years, the directorship was relinquished to the newly formed Texas Arts and Crafts Foundation. A sixteen member Board of Directors was chosen.
In 1984, the name was changed to the Texas Arts and Crafts Educational Foundation, Inc. and a non-profit 501(c)(3) educational organization status was received. Profits from the Fair, which is the main project of the Foundation, are used to support its programs. The Foundation is committed to offering educational programs in the arts. Only Texas artisans are selected to sell their original hand-crafted works during the Fair
In 1995, the Texas Legislature declared the Fair as the official arts and crafts fair in Texas, thus changing the name to The Official Texas State Arts & Crafts Fair. This is quite an honor, as few fairs or festivals are given this designation.
In 2002, the Foundation leased 7.5 acres of land for 40 years adjacent to the County Ag Center and Flat Rock Lake Park. This gave the Foundation a permanent home with plenty of acreage adjacent for parking and peripheral events. The property was named River Star Arts & Event Park. Grants were obtained to build an office building, build roads, install utilities, create tent pads, as well as fence and gate the property. The Kerrville CVB donated $10,000 as seed money for the new park.
In 2002, the Emerging Texas Artist program was introduced awarding scholarships to Texas university students. Educational demonstrations and entertainment of historic value are offered during the Fair, along with other educational programs as opportunities arise. Workshops and fellowships are offered periodically in the arts.
In 2003, the Hal & Charlie Peterson Foundation made a grant for the initial construction of the Park in the amount of $198,643. The SBA’s disaster loan program funded the move to the new property as well as the construction of the air conditioned rest room building on the grounds. In 2003, the first Fair was held at the new location.
In 2005, A 4,000 square foot pavilion with stage was built with funds from the Kerrville EIC. Tables & chairs , sound systems and concession facilities were included in the grant.
An irrigation system was installed throughout the grounds. The first Hill Country Acoustic Music Camp was produced by the Foundation in June at Schreiner University. The First thanksgiving art show was held in Fredericksburg, Texas on Thanksgiving weekend.
In 2006, James Avery Craftsman, Inc. agreed to fund the Emerging Artist Scholarship program for five years at $15,000 per year.
In 2007, an amphitheater seating 250 people was built overlooking a covered stage. The funds were obtained from the Hal & Charlie Peterson Foundation for the Amphitheater. The first Talent Contest was held at the 2007 Fair and will become an annual part of the Fair in future years. An arbor was built as an Eagle Scout Project by Gus Krause on the grounds.
Texas Arts and Crafts Foundation continues to produce the Official Texas State Arts & Crafts Fair each Memorial Day Weekend with 200+ exhibitors, entertainment, and educational activities including artist demonstrations and children’s art activities. In 2008, the Foundation will produce The Thanksgiving Invitational Arts and Crafts Show in Fredericksburg, co-produce the Hill Country Acoustic Music Camp, administer the Arts and Crafts portion of the July 4th Celebration on the River along with the City of Kerrville, and maintain the beautiful Riverstar Arts and Event Park for a variety of public and private events.