At 13, Barr becomes Festival of Arts logo contest’s youngest winner in 57 years

A 13-year-old has won the Marblehead Festival of Arts logo contest, becoming the youngest person to achieve the honor in 57 years of the annual event.

The MFoA unveiled Fiona Barr’s design before supporters and volunteers during a Landing Restaurant fundraiser on Feb. 8.

“That the winner is so young is phenomenal,” said Susan Randall as she and her friend, Marguerite Frank-Peper, finished their meals. “They’ve done the same thing for some 50-odd years; it’s good that they’re getting the youth involved.”

Seventh-grader Fiona Barr’s design featuring the Abbot Hall clock tower framed by a Fourth of July fireworks display won the Marblehead Festival of the Arts logo contest. COURTESY PHOTO

Barr’s logo depicts the clock tower of Abbot Hall, the seat of municipal government and the tallest building in Marblehead, with a fireworks display exploding in the backdrop. Frank-Peper and Randall called the design “fabulous.”

“It captures the vibrancy in town during the Marblehead festival,” said Frank-Peper. “It’s turned into such a happy place.”

The Marblehead Veterans Middle School seventh-grader beat two other finalists, capturing the most support in a public vote. Before that vote, a panel of judges selected the three finalists from 61 submissions.

The 2023 Marblehead Festival of the Arts logo features the Abbot Hall clock tower framed by a Fourth of July fireworks display. COURTESY PHOTO

The two other finalists were Cara Grazado, a University of Maryland student, and Denis Whelan, a technology executive and Marblehead parent.

Grazado’s design features whimsical red and white buoys, and Whelan’s depicts Chandler Hovey and the Marblehead Light in yellow and blue.

“This is just something that I decided to enter on a whim because I had extra time,” said Whelan, standing near a wall of submitted logos and praising Barr’s design. “I was shocked I was even considered.”  

Founded in 1962, the MFoA is run by hundreds of volunteers. This year’s festival will take place from July 1-4, offering the community a four-day, town-wide panoply of creativity.

From outdoor music at Crocker Park and a photography exhibit in the Old Town House to an artisans’ fair on the sprawling lawn of Abbot Hall and galleries in the Marblehead Arts Association, thousands of people will descend upon Marblehead over the Fourth of July weekend.

MFoA’s new board president, Jodi-Tatiana Charles, said the logo contest kicks off the first of many “exciting events” in 2023.

“We have a goal to get our entire community — in Marblehead and throughout Essex County — involved and excited about the festival’s fun events so that together we can continue to support our local artists and provide scholarships to deserving students,” she said.

The MFoA will incorporate Barr’s logo into promotional materials, the official programs, T-shirts, hats, among other items.  

Bill Smalley, who chaired the logo contest, praised the “emotion” captured in Barr’s design.

“It captures the Festival’s movement and liveliness,” he said. “It vibrates.”

And it resonates, too, said MFoA board member Gene Arnould.

“Abbot Hall is iconic, and it’s got the Fourth of July firework, so there you go,” Arnould said. “It says it all.”

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