WESTPORT — The sprawl of downtown Westport was transformed from a high-end retailing corridor to a provisional art gallery as 140 artists from around the country flocked to Main Street to show off their handmade wares.

In honor of its 44th anniversary, the Westport Fine Arts Festival returned to its roots on Main Street, after many years of the event being held in the parking lot at Parker-Harding Plaza. The festival began as a Main Street attraction before being moved to the plaza many years ago.

Tents containing a wide range of fine arts, from paintings and photography to handcrafted furniture and sculptures, were tightly packed along Main and Elm streets, amplifying the small-town vibes along the picturesque street lined with fashionable merchants and eateries.

“This is arguably the strongest field ever,” said artist Sue Brown Gordon, of Gordon Fine Arts, who coordinated the 2017 show for the Westport Downtown Merchants Association.

Known for its “upper tier art,” the Westport Fine Arts Festival draws A-list talent from as far as California, Florida and even Canada, said Gordon, who is charged with organizing summer art festivals throughout southwestern Connecticut and parts of New York.

This year’s festival, which premiered on Saturday and will also be open on Sunday from rain or shine, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., focused primarily on the fine arts.

“Every show has its own personality, and this is definitely one of the upper-tier shows,” Gordon said. “Westport is very discerning audience and they get it, and they’re looking for the best. And this definitely attracts the A-list artists, because they do well here so they want to keep coming back.”

In addition to some new faces, the festival attracted many artists that have been featured in Gordon’s other art festivals around the state.

Weston resident Dylan Bartlett, who took home first place in crafts at the Norwalk Arts Festival in June, hoped to repeat his success at this weekend’s festival.

“It’s just nice to try to sell things in an environment where people come through and ask questions about each piece. It’s just more personal,” said Bartlett, who handcrafts furniture out of wood.

The chance for one-on-one interaction with the visiting artists drew out a sizable crowd before noon Saturday, which was a good sign for the festival, Brown said.

The personable twist to shopping for art is what has kept Kathleen Maher and her son, Teige Christiano, coming back to the festival for the past four years.

“I love color, so I look for something that really pulls me in and engages me,” said Maher, who serves as the executive director at the Barnum Museum in Bridgeport.

“Basically, anything that’s not a boat or a horse,” Christiano chimed in.

ptomlinson@hearstmediact.com; 203-842-2570; Twitter: @Tomlinson_PE