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ArtsFest set for Saturday
Same place, new host
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In its first year hosting the ArtsFest on Georgia Southern University’s Sweetheart Circle, the Statesboro-Bulloch County Parks and Recreation Department has received a lot of help from friends.

After all, someone has to bring the bows and arrows for ARTchery, the musical instruments for the petting zoo and the steam roller for making “large-scale” prints.

Saturday’s 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. festival will be the 34th annual and will continue many traditional attractions, obviously with some new twists. The event map numbers 26 art stops, but some offer multiple activities. Almost all are free. Souvenir T-shirts for tie-dying cost $5.

“We ask that parents dress kids for a mess because the fun art stops may use materials that may not be washable,” Kimberly Sharpe, events coordinator for Statesboro-Bulloch County Parks and Recreation, said in a news release.

Art stops offer painting with brushes and fingers, clay and sand art activities and digital art for mobile devices. The Humane Society of Statesboro and Bulloch County hosts the Paint-a-Pet stop, but the Instrument Petting Zoo is the GSU National Association for Music Education chapter’s idea.

Georgia Southern art students and students from other departments are still involved.

A group called Southern Steam Prints is hosting the large-scale prints stop. Wooden panels, 4 and 8 feet across, carved in historic themes by artists and school groups, are to be pressed for prints by a steam roller from Southern Equipment Rentals.

Also on the map are 10 vendors in the Artists Market, plus eight food and beverage vendors.


A transition year

After the university’s Betty Foy Sanders Department of Art announced at the beginning of the year it would cease hosting the event, the county recreation department put the current effort together in less than three months.

“Has it been a lot of hard work? Yes, but it will pay off in the long run,” Broni Gainous, Parks and Recreation’s marketing and communications coordinator, said in an interview. “When we see those kids’ happy faces, it will all pay off.”

Sharpe lined up the art stops, the Artists Market, food vendors and other details such as fun inflatables, Gainous said. Meanwhile, Tim Chapman, executive director of the Averitt Center for the Arts, offered to schedule local talent for the community stage and quickly filled all the time slots. Several musical groups are slated to play, including the Southern Saxophones and the GSU Clarinet Ensemble, but there’s also a dance academy, an improvisation group, a taekwondo school and Statesboro High School theater students.


Partners and sponsors

University officials agreed the festival could still be held in the tree-canopied park inside the university’s oldest entrance from U.S. Highway 301. The former host entity, Georgia Southern’s art department, has provided information and furnished some materials.

So the 2016 ArtsFest has been organized “with the help of … all of our community partners, our sponsors,” Gainous said. “We couldn’t have done it without the help, that’s absolutely for sure.”

Besides the university, its art department and the Averitt Center, other organizations helping include the Bulloch County Schools, Charter Conservatory, the Statesboro Regional Art Association, Statesboro Regional Library, the GSU Office of Leadership and Civic Engagement, GSU Music Department, GSU Theatre Department and the GSU Paper and Print Society.

The GSU Museum is extending its hours to coincide with ArtsFest. The $2 museum admission provides access to the two current exhibits, one on the history and science of cameras and another on the archaeology of Camp Lawton, the Civil War prison camp.

Dabbs, Hickman, Hill and Cannon CPA and the Kiwanis Club of Statesboro are “title sponsors,” Gainous said. Other sponsors include the Statesboro Regional Art Association, East Georgia Regional Medical Center, Premier Dental Wellness, Lions Club of Statesboro, Georgia Southern University, Pladd Dot Music, Lori Grice Photography, Shane’s Rib Shack, Northland Cable-Cable Ad Concepts and Chick-fil-A.

The National Weather Service forecasts a “partly sunny” Saturday in Statesboro with a slight chance of showers after 2 p.m. If the past is an indication, 4,000 to 5,000 people, mostly families with young children, are likely to attend ArtsFest.

“We’ve already seen a positive outcome from it, and that’s just simply people saying, ‘Thank you for keeping this alive,’” Gainous said.

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


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