As this post goes live, the Greater Columbus Arts Council staff, Columbus Arts Festival committee volunteers and I are busily preparing to welcome hundreds of thousands of visitors to the downtown Columbus riverfront for the Columbus Arts Festival, presented by AEP. The Festival is celebrating its 58th year, and to our delight, there are many new partnerships, experiences and adventures that await Festival patrons.
One of many highlights this year: We’re thrilled to have on Sunday, June 9, the Columbus Gay Men’s Chorus, Capital Pride Band, singer-songwriter Kelly Vaughn and Flaggots Ohio flag corps for Pride! at the Fest, hosted by Virginia West and presented by Stonewall Columbus to kick off Columbus’ Pride week and the 50th anniversary of Stonewall.
It’s difficult to call out just a few highlights because the Festival really is packed with incredible art, from the nearly 270 exhibiting artists to the 150 plus performances happening throughout the three-day Festival—including BalletMet on Friday night and Anderson East on Saturday night on ABC6 Bicentennial Park Stage.
There are many new improvements to the Festival visitor experience this year that we are excited to unveil. We have increased our presence in the Franklinton Arts District and improved our footprint through a circular layout that will make it easier to find all of the exceptional art, food and performances at the Festival.
The new footprint includes an expansion of our local art presence. The Big Local Art Tent has always been a popular destination at the Festival, and this year guests will find a Big Local Art Village. The village will include the visual artists, demonstrations and make-and-take projects that are so popular, but will also feature a Big Local Music Stage and the Big Local Beer Garden showcasing Columbus craft breweries.
Another new attraction is a Virtual Reality Tent where visitors can enjoy several different virtual environments created by Columbus-based artist Bryan Moss, including a White Castle world that guests can add their own creative flair to as part of a White Castle virtual community art project. Columbus College of Art & Design and GDEX will also be on hand with interactive sculptures and games.
With so much to do at the Festival, we knew that it was important to create plenty of places to eat, drink, relax and catch a little shade. We have even more shady oases this year so everyone can take their time and enjoy their visit.
Each year we gather feedback from visitors and artists so that we can make the Festival better. I like to think this is why we were selected by the Travel Channel as the best festival in Ohio and continue to rank high in AmericanStyle and Sunshine Artist magazines.
One final thought before I join the team and get back to work. As always, The Columbus Arts Festival is a free event. Yes we hope you’ll come and buy from our artists and vendors, but there is no admission fee and no fee to enjoy any of our performances. It is also important to note that no public dollars are used in the production of the Festival. The weekend is made possible through our generous sponsors and donors as well as hundreds of volunteers. You will see these generous folks at the Festival all weekend. Please stop, say hi and thank them for helping make Columbus such a special place.
— Tom Katzenmeyer, connect with Tom on LinkedIn.