The Rapidian

2018 Festival of the Arts celebrates rich tradition and new additions

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Organizers and volunteers are working hard to prepare for the 49th annual Festival of the Arts taking place on June 1, 2 and 3 in downtown Grand Rapids.
Festival of the Arts

Festival of the Arts

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Festival Hours

Friday: Noon - 10 p.m. 

Saturday: 10 a.m. - 10 p.m. 

Sunday: 10 a.m. - 7 p.m. 



Organizers and volunteers are working hard to prepare for the 49th annual Festival of the Arts taking place on June 1, 2 and 3 in downtown Grand Rapids. Check out the 2018 program, lineup of food booths, performance schedule and map to plan your trip downtown this weekend.  

Festival of the Arts features food, family activities, art and live performances by local musicians and performers. The majority of proceeds from food sales go directly to local nonprofit organizations, so come hungry and ready to enjoy some local music and art.  

“We are really excited about this year’s Festival, and especially the addition of the comic book art event at Rosa Parks Circle,” said Jessi Nix Gould, co-chair for 2018 Festival of the Arts. “A lot of work has gone into this year’s event and we hope everyone will join us downtown June 1, 2 and 3 to celebrate 49 years of rich Festival history.”

For the first time ever, comic book art will be showcased front and center at Festival. This unique event gives festival goers access to several artists in booths at Rosa Parks Circle on Friday, June 1 and Saturday, June 2 from 5 – 9 p.m.

New menu items for 2018 include a root beer float, spicy Korean nachos, an extra-large pickle and grilled cinnamon and lemon pineapple skewers.  Tried and true favorites remain, of course, such as elephant ears, turkey legs, polish sausage, pierogis and souvlaki, among others. 

The Regional Arts Exhibition which includes the Sixth Street Bridge photo competition finalists will be on display at the Fed Galleries at Kendall College of Art and Design this year, and will be open for the public to tour, free of charge, during Festival hours.

2018 also marks Festival hiring its first-ever executive director, David Abbott. Prior to joining Festival, Abbott spent significant time working as Development Director at Goodwill Industries of Greater Grand Rapids, Gilda's Club’s Laughfest and ArtPrize on ideation and sponsor development. He is excited about the opportunity of leading Festival into its 50th year in 2019 and promises a very special celebration.

“Working along such dedicated and passionate Festival volunteers offers great hope for the continued growth of the arts in our community,” said David Abbott, executive Director for Festival of the Arts. “Together we will maintain and build Festival of the Arts for the next 50 years! Special thanks to Melissa Bush and Jessi Nix Gould for their fantastic leadership this year.”

In 1969, Alexander Calder’s La Grande Vitesse was installed in front of City Hall in downtown Grand Rapids. The 43-foot-tall, vibrant red stabile, which became known as “The Calder,” inspired a celebration – one that’s grown to encompass most of downtown Grand Rapids.

Festival of the Arts, always the first full weekend of June, celebrates the arts in 2018 on June 1, 2 and 3 in downtown Grand Rapids. The three day event family friendly remains free and features several stages of performances taking place all day, a juried arts exhibition, and dozens of food booths run by local non-profit organizations. Festival also offers creative activities for children and adults to enjoy with opportunities to make your own art or purchase art from many West Michigan artists. For more information visit or check out Festival of the Arts on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram


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