The 49th annual Festival of the Arts is slated for June 1-3.
The festival kicks off with an opening ceremony at noon, Fri. June 1 at Calder Plaza in downtown Grand Rapids with performances by the Grand Rapids Ballet School, Jenison Public Schools and Circle Theater. The three-day festival showcases local art in Grand Rapids through exhibitions, performances and community engagement.
Ferris State University’s Kendall College of Art and Design is hosting the Festival of the Arts Regional Arts Competition which takes place from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. June 1 and 2 and from noon to 5 p.m. on June 3. The exhibition will remain on display until June 23 at the Fed Galleries at KCAD, located at 17 Pearl St. NW in Grand Rapids. There is no charge to view the exhibit during the festival. Jurors for the competition are Olivia Timmons, Richard Deming Jr. and Jeff Grill. The winners of the Regional Arts Competition have already been selected. For a full list of entries and winners, click here.
Missy Bush and Jessi Nix Gould, co-chairs of Festival of the Arts, are thrilled for the festival to begin.
“I’m excited about everything,” Bush said. “It’s a moment I just can’t wait for it to start. I’m really excited about being able to see various performers… and have great food and just walk around and explore.”
Gould added, “It’s just fun to see the whole community embrace our local art in various forms and come on down and celebrate with us.”
Other than art, the festival offers nearly 20 food booths offering a diverse menu for festival-goers; anything from American to Lebanese and anything in between. For a full list of food booths, click here.
There are over 100 entertainers expected to perform during the festival at multiple locations throughout Grand Rapids. Among them are local performers Beer City Saxes, BellyDance Grand Rapids, Lake Effect, Antighost and more. A full list of entertainers can be found here.
New to the festival this year are pop-up stations for smaller acoustic performances.
“We brought in pop up stations this year,” Bush said. “We’ve always had larger stations, but we thought some pop ups for those smaller acoustic acts would be helpful.”
Festival of the Arts was founded in 1969 after Alexander Calder installed his sculpture, “La Grande Vitesse” (or “The Grand Rapids”) in front of City Hall in downtown Grand Rapids. Art organizers in Grand Rapids initiated the first Festival of the Arts for the community. Nearly four decades later the festival remains a free community event exhibiting local art and artists.
For Bush and Gould the festival’s yearly success would make Calder proud that it shares art with the community.
“Obviously, I don’t know him,” Bush said. “I’ve never met him, but I would think that he would feel pretty good that people are coming out to celebrate art in various forms.”
Gould added, “And the sheer amount of artists that we focus on, I think he would be really proud so many people are embracing art and putting it on display to the public.”
Festival of the Arts is primarily a volunteer-driven event and volunteers are still in demand for the festival with an estimated turn out of 300,000 people. For more information on volunteering, click here.
The festival will be broadcasted live from Calder Plaza on LiveWire by GRTV. To view the festival tune in to channel 24 on Comcast. For a full list of events on Festival of the Arts, click here to view the entire program.