Glass Mushrooms, Wee Cottages, Stilt People

The Sawdust Art Festival has been around Laguna forever, forever being about 43 or so years in this case. But the festival's quaint-to-the-max setting makes you feel as if you're walking straight into a little Bavarian fantasy village circa 1580 -- winding lanes, crooked cottages, everywhere you look another art-sprouting nook.

We half expect to see a bewhiskered, wizened gnome pop out from some tree stump. Expect and hope.

And the very name of the fest is a bit of a spoiler: there's sawdust on the ground. Lots and lots of sawdust and wood chips, which lends this famous festival a very folksy, rustic air. The salty sea air helps, too, the dappled light through old trees, and the artists, of which there are many. What they are doing: working with hot glass, bending spoons into barrettes, painting with watercolors.

The Sawdust Art Festival bows for 2009 on Friday, June 26, and runs through the 30th of August. We've come in the past to stock up on holiday gifts -- a little gnome said don't wait until the last minute -- and people were pleased.

Did we mention there are usually acrobats on stilts, too? Sawdust, stilts, art. Joy.

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