CONCORD, NC -- Saturday's Spring Into Arts Festival will be a bit different this year, with street performers roaming Union Street and belly dancers, a poet and an instrumentalist weaving through the crowd of more the more than 2,000 expected to attend.
The festival has always had a stage for performers and in the past had a second stage. But this year, officials are trading out the second stage for street performers, who will rotate through the festival, playing various spots.
"We want the festival to be really spontaneous and interactive," said Diane Young, executive director of Concord Downtown Development Corporation. "We've tried the second stage, and the second stage doesn't draw real well. People seem to want to wander around. At this festival they don't seem to want to sit in one place for very long. So, we felt with the street performers, it's just spontaneous, pop-up entertainment. And you can enjoy it for a few minutes and keep moving on."
With street performers, this year's festival includes 29 artists, which is up from 18 last year. The festival runs from 10 am to 4 pm Saturday in downtown Concord. Young said in order to have a blend of entertainment, show organizers researched shows and recruited artists at various festivals. They researched shows in Blowing Rock, Hendersonville, Winston-Salem and Lake Norman, among others.
"We purposely picked festivals where we would look online, see the work, and then we went out for artists who we thought had an interesting product and had a price point that would work in downtown Concord," Young said.
Young said they saw plenty of great artists, but with prices that were $900 or more, Young and committee members knew the artist might not sell anything in Concord. So, the group looked for artists with price points that ranged from $20 to $40, as well as some artists with pieces that ran a few hundred dollars for higher-end shoppers.
One artist coming to Spring into Arts Festival makes wooden stringed instruments.
"I am considering getting one for my Mother's Day gift," Young said. "Not only do they sound beautiful, they are works of art in and of themselves."
Young said there will also be artists who have made scarves, hats and gloves from various fabrics, as well as artists with paintings, ceramics, stained glass and metal work.
"It will be really fun for people to go up and down the artists' row and take a look at each of these different booths," Young said.
With visual arts, the festival will also have the culinary arts covered with various food vendors, including Nokie Thai Food Truck, Two Gals Kitchen and The Pig and Cow, Inc. with other food vendors.
The festival will also have the performing arts represented with the street performers. There will also be a main stage with African storyteller April Turner, and the Concord-based Motion Dance Studio doing a segment were they will teach children how to line dance.
"The kids love to be interactive with the entertainers on the stage," Young said.
Children will also have a chance to shine with a Spring Alive talent showcase that will allow kids who registered to perform.
There will also be a "Creation Station" that allows children to create art, with the Concord Parks and Recreation Department and Trashed studios participating.
"It's one of the best interactive children's areas that I've ever seen at a festival," Young said. "It's always a hit."
With children busy making art, adults and children alike have a chance to help create a mural. This year organizers are having the "Windows on Union" program, taking three large 5X5 canvases that will be on display with paints and brushes. The canvases will be divided into sections, and visitors will be able to walk up and "paint their own little 'window'" on a grid on the canvas.
"And so, over the course of the day, three different murals will develop from start to finish by attendees," Young said.
In all, the various events help compliment the arts that people will explore along Union Street, making sure that each Spring into Arts Festival is fresh and new, with new artists being brought in each year.
"We have worked very, very, very diligently to change up the variety of artist, the quality of artists," Young said. "And have things that are very unique and different and that you don't see at every single festival."
Contact Michael Knox at 704-789-9133.