By Connor MacLachlan
The Festival, which was first celebrated in 1969, begins Friday, June 7 and runs through Sunday, June 9. It will celebrate and feature numerous examples of literature, dance, media, music, visual arts and design throughout downtown Grand Rapids.
With food booths, several free kids activities, art sales and performance stages set up all throughout the heart of downtown, the Festival of the Arts is an event for everyone that helps kick off the summer. There will be 16 food booths that will feature a wide range of cultural meals, more than 50 art sales tents, and 10 performance stages in total that will include music, theatre and dance.
To celebrate the occasion of the 50th year of the festival, there will be a special appearance made by Mayor Rosalynn Bliss at the opening ceremonies on Friday on the Calder Stage at 7:30 p.m. In addition, the Official Festival Beer, Amber of the Arts brewed by Perrin Brewing Company, will be available at bars and restaurants around town. To cap off the special 50 year celebrations at this years Festival, the Grand Rapids Ballet will be performing a world premiere performance at 7 p.m. Saturday on the Calder Stage.
The Festival of the Arts was first celebrated in 1969 after Alexander Calder inspired a city with his sculpture “La Grande Vitesse”, translated “The Grand Swiftness, Rapids.” His sculpture, now dubbed “The Calder”, was placed in front of City Hall and established Grand Rapids as a community that placed value in the arts. According to the Festival’s most recent news release, Executive Director of the Festival of the Arts David Abbott remains excited about the impact that such a long lasting event can have on a city.
“Festival of the Arts remains such a legacy event in our community that generations have enjoyed” Abbott stated. “Many bands have launched their career here, and many artists have sold their first piece of work in the Regional Arts Exhibition. Come and be a part of the 50th Celebration and relish in all the fun and embrace the Art for All!”
The Festival hours are listed below for those who want to come downtown and enjoy any of the numerous booths or performances put on by countless artists in the city.
Friday, June 7: Noon – 11 p.m.
Saturday, June 8: 10 a.m. – 11 p.m.
Sunday, June 9: 10 a.m. – 8 p.m.