Georgia Southern University’s annual ArtsFest, now in its 31st year, will be held April 6 and is the perfect opportunity to let your little artists shine — and perhaps your own inner artist, too.
According to Cinnamon Dowd, the coordinator of this year’s ArtsFest, the event has much to offer, including opportunities to purchase unique artwork and watch live performances, as well as chances to stop and create your own art projects.
Volunteers from around the community and Georgia Southern are expected to operate nearly 30 Art Stops that will be scattered across Sweetheart Circle. They will offer chance for kids and parents to create their own T-shirts, paintings, clay pottery and more. Some stops have become community favorites, such as the Humane Society’s Paint-A-Pet stop and the Tie Dye T-shirt stop, but there will be some new stops this year that Dowd said she believes will appeal to the artists inside moms and dads, too.
“I get really excited about the community and university groups that get involved. They are excited and bring in their new ideas,” Dowd said. “We have a lot of participation from different departments on campus this year. It brings in a new innovative way to look at art, not just the traditional painting and coloring, but even how physicists see art or how mathematicians see art.”
For example, she said athletics is offering a splatter-paint workshop in which visitors will get to toss balloons filled with paint at a canvas, and the physics department is offering a stop where visitors can design their own air-powered rockets and launch them.
“It’s very safe,” Dowd said. “It’s going to be neat and different.”
The Artists Market will be a little different this year, too.
“Each year we allow the region or the state artists to come in and sell their artwork,” Dowd said. “This year, we encouraged our students to join in as well. Student Art League, Club Mudd, Design Group, The Jewelry Guild, they’re all going to join us as well so that we can show off what they are doing in the classroom.”
Local performers will take the stage this year with dance and musical performances alongside this year’s headliners, international performers from the Tampa Taiko Drumming Ensemble and the Lion Dancing Team of Chien Hong School of Kung Foo.
ArtsFest was started in 1982 as a celebration of the Nation Art Education Association's Youth Art Month in March. The festival initially featured only local performers and artists and brought a crowd of approximately 300 people. As the festival grew and changed, ArtsFest coordinators decided to move the event to April for more agreeable weather. This year, nearly 6,000 people are anticipated to fill the circle and experience live performances, make art, buy handmade artwork and delight their taste buds.
“It’s great for me,” said Dowd, “because it’s been going on long enough that I can remember going when I was young and dancing at ArtsFest, and now I’ve gone through Georgia Southern as an undergrad and I’m back here working and now running ArtsFest. It’s so neat to see that it’s been around this long, and it’s grown so much.”