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Arts and Entertainment

36th Annual ArtsFest on Walnut Street Promises Something for Everybody

(Banner design courtesy Springfield Regional Arts Council)

Artsfest on Walnut Street, a celebration of the visual and performing arts now in its 36th year, will be held Saturday, May 7 from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. and Sunday, May 8 from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. on Walnut Street, from National Avenue to just east of Kimbrough Avenue. The event is sponsored by Great Southern Bank and the Springfield Regional Arts Council, and managed by the Downtown Springfield Association.

More than 140 artists from 21 states will be displaying, selling and competing for over $5,000 in cash awards. This year’s festival boasts 87 returning artists and 50 artists who have never participated in Artsfest before. Media featured include: wood, glass, clay, printmaking, paper, jewelry, photography, metal, painting, drawing, fiber, and mixed medium.

Approximately 20,000 patrons attend the outdoor festival each year. Festival-goers are encouraged to explore and shop artists’ booths, enjoy cuisine from about a dozen local restaurants and food vendors, and participate in kid-friendly activities. The festival will again feature a wealth of regional talent with over 50 performance groups on five stages. "And every hour of the day will be filled with some sort of performer," according to Springfield Regional Arts Council Executive Director Leslie Forrester.  "So I think we have something like 72 or more performances packed in during the weekend. And just like artists themselves, we have a big variety from jazz to folk music to dance--a little bit of everything for everybody."

Kids can take part in a free, hands-on art activity in the Kid’s Art Zone. Children will have the opportunity to design their own puzzle at the festival to take home. (While supplies last.) Returning for 2016, the Live Art Area will feature 12 artists painting throughout the festival hours Saturday and Sunday, working on pieces inspired by music from Artsfest performers. The finished art will be displayed at The Creamery Arts Center in May and is available for purchase.

Also returning for its second year, the Ozarks Gallery will feature artwork from 13 local 2-D artists who have never exhibited at Artsfest on Walnut Street.  Says Leslie  Forrester,"one of the ways that we're working on supporting local artists within our region is to give them an opportunity to show art in places they've never an opportunity before. And having your own booth at ArtsFest is hard work--it takes a lot of supplies and equipment and manpower to do."

Not only is ArtsFest traditionally kid- and family-friendly, this year there's something extra for adults.  There have been beer gardens at past ArtsFests, but as Leslie Forrester told us, "Just this week City Council approved to the ordinances governing alcohol, so this year for the first time ever, you'll be able to stroll the street with a glass of wine or beer and enjoy the art. This is the first time that you can actually take a glass of wine for a stroll--which will be perfect for a spring afternoon."

For more information about Artsfest on Walnut Street, call 417-831-6200 or visit  Advance tickets can be purchased at Springfield McDonald’s restaurants April 20-May 6 for $3 each.  Tickets are $5 at the gate, children 5 and under are free.