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ArtsFest occupies a busy Saturday
April 22 also rodeos final night and Spring into Statesboro
W 042316 ARTSFEST 01a
Julia Ann Maxwell of the Statesboro Youth Ballet is on pointe during the 2016 ArtsFest at Sweetheart Circle on the campus of Georgia Southern University last year. The festival was hosted in its traditional place with Statesboro-Bulloch County Parks and Recreation Department, with major contributions from the Averitt Center for the Arts, acting as the official host for the first time.

ArtsFest, returning for its 35th year, has camped on a very busy Saturday, April 22. But far from having a scheduling conflict with the April 21-22 Statesboro Kiwanis Rodeo, the ArtsFest has the Kiwanis Club as one of its sponsors.

The 2017 festival on Sweetheart Circle at Georgia Southern University will be open from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m., ending an hour earlier than last year.

“That way, people are able to go home, get supper or relax before they go to the rodeo,” said Broni Gainous, marketing and communications director for the Statesboro-Bulloch County Parks and Recreation Department.

This is the second year that Statesboro-Bulloch Parks and Recreation has hosted ArtsFest, having picked it up after the university’s art department announced early last year it would no longer serve as host. After getting a late start planning last year’s event, Parks & Recreation still has not put ArtsFest in its operating budget, instead relying on sponsors, Gainous said.

“We could not do it without our sponsors, and also those organizations that are providing Art Stops,” she said.

The accounting firm Dabbs, Hickman, Hill and Cannon is the event’s title sponsor. But the Kiwanis Club of Statesboro is called the community sponsor. They are the two largest contributors, but there are several other sponsors.


Art Stops total 28

For ArtsFest 2017, Parks and Recreation has lined up 28 mostly free Art Stops, plus 13 organizations participating in the Artists’ Market and eight food and beverage vendors. Many of the same attractions that drew more than 4,000 people, including many families with children, to last year’s festival will be back.

Staff from the Recreation Department, its afterschool program and its waterpark Splash in the Boro will operate eight of the stops, among them hand puppets, bag decorating, action painting and the bubble station. The stop for tie-dying T-shirts is also the department’s own. Guidance in tie-dying is free, but the ArtsFest 2017 T-shirts, designed by Georgia Southern art student Hayden Strickland, are $5 each.

Another activity popular in recent years, ARTchery, will be back, guided by staff from the university’s Shooting Sports Education Center. This year, Flight Factory Entertainment is hosting another form of ballistic art, paintball painting. The National Association for Music Education will be back with its Instrument Petting Zoo and a stop devoted to instrument making.

The Statesboro Regional Art Association calls its stop “The Wonders of Watercolor.” The Averitt Center for the Arts is providing Clay Factory and Mosaic Madness stops, and both the Averitt Center and Parks and Recreation offer face painting.


Authors & wildlife

Bringing literary art into the festival, a Southern Authors Expo is planned, not as an Art Stop but as a distinct attraction, with Georgia Southern alumni authors to share and discuss their work. Meeting authors will give parents, grandparents, and adults unaccompanied by children something to do at the festival, Gainous said.

“Of course we can face-paint them too if they like,” she said. “We welcome all ages.”

Also new this year, the Georgia Southern University Center for Wildlife Education will bring an exhibit, probably including birds, snakes and “some creepy-crawlies,” she said, from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m.


Rodeo tie-in

In another sign of cooperation with Kiwanis, Miss Rodeo USA 2017 Brittany Howard is slated to appear on the ArtsFest stage at 12:20 p.m. Of the eight acts scheduled, she will be the only one not based in Statesboro. The rodeo’s gates open at 5 p.m. for the pre-rodeo activities starting at 7 p.m. and the main event at 7:30 p.m., so the two events do not overlap.


Spring in, too

But Spring into Statesboro, hosted by the Downtown Statesboro Development Authority, also offers activities for children and coincides with ArtsFest, except that Spring into Statesboro starts an hour earlier and ends sooner.

Lasting from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m., the April 22 DSDA event accompanies that week’s Mainstreet Farmers Market. Students from a Georgia Southern service learning class provide activities for Spring into Statesboro.

“I don’t think it will hurt either of our events,” Gainous said. “We’re going to try to send some (people) to them, and they’ll send some to us.”

Some events that are usually held in mid-April, including ArtsFest, were scheduled one week later this year because Easter falls on April 16, she noted.


Herald reporter Al Hackle may be reached at (912) 489-9458.


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