We recently wrapped up the 55th annual Columbus Arts Festival, and I couldn’t be more proud of the hundreds of people and many businesses that contributed to the this year’s success.
Throughout the Festival and for days afterward members of the community came up to me to congratulate me on the event. This is extremely gratifying but there isn’t enough time in those few seconds to set the record straight—to make sure that the well wisher knows who deserves those congratulations.
That “who” is plural. It truly takes a village to make an arts festival of our size and quality. We have more than 100 volunteer committee members, many of whom start working in October for the following year’s festival. They are also on site during the Festival, way before it opens and long after it closes. Many take time off from their paying jobs during the Arts Festival to make it all happen, and without them the festival wouldn’t happen and we certainly wouldn’t be able to produce such a large event that is free to the public. This is of course in addition to the 500 plus volunteers that join us on site during the Festival. We’ve estimated it takes approximately 10,000 volunteer hours to put on the Columbus Arts Festival.
While I’m on the subject of free to the public, let me bring your attention to our sponsors. Without cash sponsorships there would be no Festival. No public funds are used on the Arts Festival, which costs approximately $850,000 to produce. Without private support we wouldn’t have electricity, bathrooms, tents, security, stages, trash removal or the many other necessities that are needed for a such a large event. We do our best to honor our sponsors in our guidebook, online and onsite, but please take a moment, check out our sponsor page and the next time you are making a purchasing decision remember those businesses that supported this free event for our community. They deserve our appreciation.
Not every business who gives to the Festival makes it on to a sponsor page. Many local businesses chip in with in-kind gifts. ZenGenius, Sidecar Global Catering, Columbus State Community College, Dara’s Dips, Vintage Wine, Casa Noble Tequila and The Big Room Bar, either donated food and services or provided them at a significant discount for our patron party, which is another way we thank our cash sponsors. Other local restaurants, including Blind Lady Tavern, Philip’s Coney Island, Salt & Pine and Texas Roadhouse, were kind enough to donate food to help feed the volunteer coordinating committee who is on site working long, hot days. And, local businesses including Gateway Film Center, Columbus Museum of Art, Conn’s Potato Chips, Lancaster Carnival Foods, Shadowbox Live, Diamond Jim’s Pizza and the Wexner Center for the Arts donated perks for the 500 Festival volunteers that help us during the event.
Local artists and arts organizations donated to our Children’s Gallery to provide raffle prizes, and Franklinton Arts District, Wholly Craft, Lowe’s, Artists Wrestling League and Valspar donated in-kind support (including supplies) to the Big Local Arts Tent, which provided art demonstrations and “make-and-take” projects throughout the weekend.
It is also worth noting that without the city’s support, the Festival could not happen. Our city leaders are not only supportive, but Mayor Andrew Ginther was on hand to celebrate the opening of the 55th Columbus Arts Festival with a proclamation and processional.
The Arts Festival brings an estimated 450,000 people to the downtown riverfront over the course of three days with an estimated $25.5 million in additional spending by non-Franklin County visitors.
Producing the Columbus Arts Festival is a complicated well-oiled machine with many moving pieces. Most of those moving pieces are donated or volunteered and they deserve every thank you, and congratulations that I have been privileged enough to hear over the last few days.
— Tom Katzenmeyer, connect with Tom on LinkedIn.
2016 Columbus Arts Festival panoramic image provided by Larry Hamill.