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July 12, 2014 10:00 PM

Tens Of Thousands Gather In Brookings For Summer Arts Festival

Brookings, SD

This weekend, thousands of people are at Pioneer Park for the 43rd annual Brookings Summer Arts Festival.

Each year, the festival draws tens of thousands of people who want to experience entertainment, 42 food booths, and of course, the art.

"I always joke that probably 20,000 people would show up rain or shine no matter what. Even if we did no advertising, and of course some advertising helps, and so we get into those much larger numbers," Board of Directors member Shari Avery said.

Numbers that reached up to 70,000 people over two days at last year's event. And even despite this year's weather, there is no shortage of people at Pioneer Park.

From paintings, to pottery, to woodworking, and basically anything in between, this year's summer art festival features 200 artists with a wide variety of talents.

Bill Lillibridge is one of those artists and his line of work involves something pretty unique: robots.

"You have to have something to do with yourself, especially when you retire. And this is one way that keeps me out of my wife's hair," Lillibridge said.

But this hobby acts as more than just a way to spend time. For Lillibridge, it's all about interacting with his customers.

"Their faces light up, they'll come in and they'll kind of just have kind of a strange look on their face and all of a sudden they're just laughing. And then they'll start saying 'awesome,' 'dude I had one of these,' or, you know, I know that part, and they try to guess those kinds of things so. That's my favorite part, just intermingling with the people,” Lillibridge said.

Making this festival meaningful not just for the guests, but for the artists as well.

The art festival opens again Sunday at 10 a.m., and runs until 5 p.m.

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