By: Jen Bryant
Summer in Columbus wouldn’t be the same without the Columbus Arts Festival. Originally started in 1962 as a small, student-focused event, the festival has expanded over the years into a weekend-long celebration featuring over 300 artists from across the country. Each year, the gathering draws hundreds of thousands of visitors to downtown Columbus to enjoy art and cultural performances.
Don’t worry if visual arts aren’t your thing; in addition to paintings and sculptures, the festival features slam poetry, local theater, modern dance, hands-on demos, spoken word, and live music performances. You can also shop for jewelry, clothes, and other handmade goods. And of course, in true Columbus fashion, there’s no shortage of food trucks.
The festival is held at the riverfront downtown and runs from June 9-11. If you’re planning to check it out, don’t miss these favorites:
Best Up-and-Coming Artist: Samantha Salazar is one of 14 emerging artists featured at this year’s festival. Her eye-catching mixed media works explore patterns and color theory in a refreshingly different way.
Best Performance: The West Bank Stage is the perfect place to catch live music this weekend. Grab a beer, stake out a spot in the grass, and enjoy everything from R&B and jazz to alternative and zydeco.
Best Food Truck: No Ohio festival would be complete without deep-fried foods on a stick. However, you can get a deep-fried candy bar at pretty much any summer fest. If you’re looking for something different, try the paella from Barroluco, which specializes in seriously tasty Argentinian comfort food. If you’re not totally stuffed afterward, stop by the Buckeye Donuts truck for dessert.
Best Exhibit: Ever wonder how stained glass is made or exactly what a blacksmith does? At the Big Local Arts Tent, you can see demos all weekend in a variety of mediums, like leather working, clay throwing, and jewelry making.
Best Spot to Cool Off: Some folks from CCAD got together and created the Sorbetdome, a giant candy-colored tent filled with beanbag-style seats. It’s the perfect spot to take a break from the heat.
Best Free Stuff: The ABC6 tent has free sunglasses and fans. With temps nearing 90 degrees, they’ll definitely come in handy.
Best Local Talent: Caleb Zouhary, an Ohio-based potter, is selling some seriously unique pieces this weekend. His mugs, vases, and bowls are way more interesting than anything you’d find at a big-box store – and they’re functional, too.
Best Collaboration: Sign Your Art is a community project that gives festivalgoers the chance to create their own tile artwork. Some of these tiles will be displayed across Columbus next month, spelling out “ART.” Don’t miss the chance to show off your hidden talent!