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WORTH THE DRIVE: Huge Columbus weekend festival blends music, art, food, beer and fun on the river

The Columbus Arts Festival kicks off at 11 a.m. today and runs through Sunday along the Scioto Mile.

You’ll find booths featuring artists from all over and local acts performing throughout the Scioto Mile.

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With more than 270 exhibiting artists at the Columbus Arts Festival presented by American Electric Power, there is certainly plenty to see June 8-10 on the riverfront, but there is also plenty to do. The Festival offers interactive opportunities for people of all ages and skill-sets to create, observe, explore and learn. 

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More than 450,000 people are expected to attend this weekend.

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Here are a few things to know before you go straight from event organizers:

WHAT TO DO

COLUMBUS ARTS FESTIVAL: On Friday, June 8 at 9 p.m., Scott Bradlee’s Postmodern Jukebox will delight audiences with their reimagining of contemporary pop, rock and R&B hits in vintage musical styles. Source: Columbus Arts Festival (EMily Butler Photography)

National Headlining Acts to Play Friday and Saturday NightsThe ABC6 Bicentennial Park Stage will host national headlining acts during the festival. On Friday, June 8 at 9 p.m., Scott Bradlee’s Postmodern Jukebox will delight audiences with their reimagining of contemporary pop, rock and R&B hits in vintage musical styles. Saturday, June 9 at 9 p.m., the alternative hip-hop stylings of G. Love & Special Sauce will bring new music and 90s favorites to the Festival.

Genoa Park Music Stage 

The new Genoa Park Stage on the west bank of the Scioto River takes advantage of the stepped amphitheater with beautiful views of the Columbus skyline. Presented by Huntington, the stage will offer more than 20 performances throughout the three days of the Festival, and is situated close to food and beverage vendors.

Local Craft Beers

A Craft Beer Garden will be presented by Blue Moon and feature local craft brews from BrewDog, Columbus Brewing Company, Four String Brewing Company and Seventh Son Brewing. Find the Beer Garden on Washington Blvd. between Town and Rich streets.

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Wex at the Fest 

The Wexner Center for the Arts will kick off their summer programming with a celebration of homegrown musical talent starting at 3 p.m., Saturday, June 9, on the ABC6 Bicentennial Park Stage. This outdoor show starts with Future Nuns, followed by Hugs and Kisses, minimalist percussion ensemble Tigue (Ohio State alumni Matt Evans, Amy Garapic and Carson Moody) and finishes with drummer/musicologist Mark Lomax II with tenor saxophonist Eddie Bayard and DJ Krate Digga.

Interactive, hands-on fun is part of the Columbus Arts Festival, happening June 8-10. Source: Columbus Arts Festival

Hands-On Activities Village 

The Hands-On Activities Village has even more going on this year with a move to the new eight-acre Scioto Peninsula Park on the west side of COSI.

Staffed by volunteers from 20 local organizations from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday, and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, activities range from building musical instruments, designing bridges, creating glass paintings, painting mini flower pots and more.

Almost all activities are free and open to kids and adults. With representatives on hand from organizations like Art Garden Studios, Musicologie, Ohio Designer Craftsmen and Glass Axis, there are activities to fit a wide range of interests and ages. 

Art is a major part of the annual Columbus Arts Festival, happening June 8-10. Source: Columbus Arts Festival

 

Big Local Art Tent 

Located on Washington Boulevard in front of COSI, the Big Local Art Tent is where creative groups from all over the city come together to build a place for people to experience and purchase local art. Celebrating its seventh anniversary, the Big Local Art Tent will showcase art in all mediums from independent artists.

More than 60 artists from collectives across the city will sell their art while friendly and talented demonstrators will show you clay throwing, leather working, stained glass, blacksmithing and more.

 

Children’s Gallery 

Kids play art collector in the Children’s Gallery with support from Puffin Foundation West. On Saturday and Sunday from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. children ages 12 and younger are invited to experience the unique kid-sized gallery —located near the Hands-On Activities Village — with artwork donated by exhibiting artists. Each piece is priced at $5 and under. 

 

Meet the Art Shark 

Always on the move, the beloved mascot of the Columbus Arts Festival will appear on both sides of the river. Festival goers can say hello and take a selfie with Arthur S. Hark, who can be found swimming around the Art Makes Columbus Activity Village by COSI (Saturday, 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. and Sunday, 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.) or at the Bicentennial Park fountain (Friday, 3:30-4:30 p.m., Saturday, 3-5 p.m., and Sunday, 2-3:30 p.m.). 

 

Get Framed at the Arts Fest 

Festival guests can place themselves in the giant selfie frame presented by Reed Arts, just north of the intersection of the Rich Street bridge and Washington Boulevard, for a perfectly framed photo with the city’s beautiful skyline as a backdrop. 

Riverfest returns to the Columbus Arts Festival with a free canoe and kayak launch point on the festival grounds behind the Bicentennial Park stage, next to the Main Street Bridge. Riverfest will take place Saturday, June 9 from noon – 6 p.m. and Sunday, June 10 from noon–4 p.m. Source: Columbus Arts Festival

 

Riverfest 

The Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission (MORPC)’s Riverfest returns to the festival with a free canoe and kayak launch point on the festival grounds behind the Bicentennial Park stage, next to the Main Street Bridge. Riverfest will take place Saturday, June 9 from noon – 6 p.m. and Sunday, June 10 from noon–4 p.m. Some walk-up appointments will be available; advance reservations can be made at www.morpc.org/riverfest

The Columbus Arts Festival returns from June 8-10. Source: Columbus Arts Festival (Larry Hamill)

 

HOW TO STAY IN THE KNOW

A New App

Locate a favorite artist, discover hands-on activities, check performance schedules and navigate to amenities using the festival’s new downloadable app.

Powered by Guidebook, the app will feature an interactive map, complete schedules, a full directory of artists and more. The app is available to download for free for any smartphone or tablet. New information will be added to the app as it becomes available.  

PARKING

Parking is available on surface lots both east and west of the river, at metered spaces on surrounding city streets and in garages throughout the downtown area, including the Columbus Commons garage, River South at Front and Rich and the LeVeque Tower Garage at Broad and Front.

Guests can even reserve parking spots at: columbusartsfestival.org/festival/parkingbiking-info 

 

Limited wheelchair-accessible parking is available to those with disabled parking placards at bagged meters on the north side of Mound Street west of South Second Street, and on the east side of Civic Center between Town and Broad streets. 

For a list of street closures, please click here.

The Columbus Arts Festival is one of the signature festivals of summer in Ohio, drawing hundreds of thousands. Source: Columbus Arts Festival

WANT TO GO? 

What: The Columbus Arts Festival  

Where: The Scioto Mile, downtown Columbus 

When: 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Friday, June 8; 10 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Saturday, June 9; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, June 10 

Admission: free

More info: 614-221-8531, www.columbusartsfestival.org 

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