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Grand Rapids - Forty-five years ago, the three-day community arts celebration known as Festival of the Arts began, in celebration of the installation of Alexander Calder's massive stabile La Grande Vitesse in front of the just-built City and County Buildings.

The Calder, as it's now known, was among the very first national Art in Public Places installations, setting Grand Rapids apart from most cities its size.

When Festival of the Arts began, there were only a few art displays, two stages, and one or two food vendors. Over the years, Festival's popularity grew and today, the big event can be seen throughout downtown Grand Rapids, with six stages of continuous performances, Art Tents, a Regional Art Exhibition featuring the best artists in West Michigan, and dozens of food booths run by nonprofit organizations - not to mention creative activities for children and adults to enjoy.

And what's the best thing about it? Everything except food and art is free of charge!

2014 Festival of the Arts Poster Artist Dana Ziebarth created a lively watercolor featuring the Calder stabile and many other aspects of Festival to commemorate the event.

Visitors can purchase special limited edition signed, numbered prints of the poster right now – at the Grand Rapids Art Museum (GRAM) and at the Urban Institute of Contemporary Arts (UICA). Posters will also be sold at "The Festival Store" during Festival weekend – June 6, 7 & 8, 2014.

The original watercolor artwork will be on display and is available for purchase as part of the Festival Regional Art Exhibition, which returns to the UICA for the second time. This exhibition is a juried event, attracting West Michigan's finest painters, sculptors, 3D artists, photographers and more.

For the first time in Festival history, Kendall College of Art and Design will host a series of demonstrations including fashion shows with cloths made by their own designers, teaching organic pottery, old-fashioned printmaking and a variety of other hands-on workshops.

We are thrilled to partner with Kendall and we hope that Festival visitors take advantage of these wonderful workshops," says Valerie Clarke, 2014 Festival of the Arts Co-chair.

Kendall College will also have a film exhibition which will feature many of the winners of the 2013 West Michigan Film Festivals.

"Festival of the Arts has had a film competitions in the past, so we figured a film exhibition would present a new component for 2014," said Festival of the Arts 2014 Co-chair Tim Postema.

The workshops and films will take place at Kendall College of Art and Design,on Pearl Street.

Activities galore

In addition to these new events, Festival is bringing back many traditional favorites, including the Youth Art Exhibition and Indoor Classical music, presented at the Grand Rapids Art Museum. Children can also participate in iconic Festival activities that include the Mad Hatter, the Glue-in, Paint-in, Screen-Printing, Chalk the Walk and Kids Art Zone.

And after a two-year hiatus, Adult Involvement, now called Art Involvment returns to Calder Plaza, with a variety of family-style creative activities for the young at heart.

Terrific volunteer opportunities

If you've ever wanted to get involved in your community, there's a job for you at Festival – from helping performers get on and off stage, to handing out programs, to assisting with kids' activities and cleaning up afterward. As one of the largest all-volunteer arts events in the nation, and one of the longest running Festivals in the State of Michigan, Festival welcomes volunteers ages 10 and up – especially families.

And food

It wouldn't be Festival without food from around the world! This year, there are over twenty food booths all run by nonprofit organizations. For many of these nonprofits, Festival represents their biggest fundraiser of the year. Look for all your favorite foods to return to Festival – plus a few new treats in 2014 as well.

... and Performance

A big draw for Festival is the many performers who devote much time and energy to present their best on Festival's six performance stages. Festival visitors enjoy music of every genre, dance from jazz to hip-hop to professional ballet, comedy, theatre. ...Whatever you love to watch, you'll find it happening somewhere onstage at Festival.

Bottom line: That's the beauty of Festival of the Arts and it always has been – there is something for everyone to enjoy. For more information, visit www.festivalgr.org.

Festival of the Arts opens in downtown Grand Rapids.

Friday, June 6 from noon-9:00 p.m.

Saturday, June 7 from 10:00 a.m. -9:00 p.m.

Sunday, June 8 from 10:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.

As one of the largest all-volunteer art events in the nation, Festival of the Arts is a 501c3 nonprofit organization and receives support from the City of Grand Rapids, the Kent County Commission and many generous businesses, organizations and individuals.

Courtesy: Festival of the Arts

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