It is hard to image that we are already at the 50th Anniversary of our local Festival of the Arts
. So many memories have been made by way of the arts but also via the many food booths and activities that appear to magically pop up all over the downtown starting the first Friday at noon of every June since 1969.
The impetus for this annual community-centered event began the same year as the installation of Alexander Calder’s La Grande Vitesse in front of City Hall in downtown Grand Rapids. This 43-foot-tall, vibrant red stabile, which locals shortened to “The Calder,” became the inspiration for a community of volunteers to commemorate this historic first major public artwork tied to the city’s vision of urban renewal.
Over the years, lots of changes have shaped the face of our city. Over time, we have evolved to become much more vibrantly alive with many more activities and options than during the early years of Festival. Whether it is your first time or 50th, this year is a wonderful time to revisit the Festival to see all the upgrades their new executive director David Abbott, along with hundreds of volunteers, have brought to this year’s festivities.
Highlights of this three-day festival that begins at noon on June 7 include:
- Opening ceremonies with Mayor Bliss on Friday, June 7 on Calder Stage at 7:30 p.m.
- The Regional Arts Exhibition located in the Fed Galleries at Kendall College is the largest in Festival history.
- Dogs are allowed on leashes throughout the Festival of the Arts footprint.
- Several local food trucks will be at Festival and will be located on Monroe Center alongside the GRAM.
- Official Festival Beer – Amber of the Arts by Perrin Brewing – is available at several downtown bars and restaurants.
- 16 food booths run by area non-profits will feature cultural foods and beverages.
- Free kids activities will include Paint-In, Glue-In, and more.
- 50+ art sales tents will be located on Calder Plaza.
- 10 stages: 5 main stages and 5 pop-ups will feature music, theatre, and dance.
- A world premiere performance by the Grand Rapids Ballet will take place on Saturday, June 8 on Calder Stage at 7 p.m.
A fully comprehensive guide to all of the performances scheduled, a festival map, a food booth guide, and so much more is available at https://festivalgr.org/