One of the most beloved outdoor festivals in Columbus is revved up and ready to go after its forced two-year hiatus.
The Columbus Arts Festival will get underground at 11 am Friday and continues until 5 pm Sunday.
“We are so excited to be back — and I think people are excited to have us back,” said Jami Goldstein, vice president of marketing, communications and events for the Greater Columbus Arts Council that puts on the festival.
Barring thunderstorms and high winds (which plagued a couple festivals in the past) or another serious outbreak of COVID-19 (which resulted in the cancellation of the 2020 and 2021 festivals), the 2022 Columbus Arts Festival should run smoothly and delight the nearly 500,000 people expected to attend.
Before heading Downtown, here’s what you need to know.
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Columbus Arts Festival: opening hours, how to get there
The festival takes place in a mile-loop Downtown by the Scioto Riverfront, with artists’ booths also placed on the Main Street and Rich Street bridges.
Festival Hours: 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Saturday, and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. Artists’ booths are scheduled to close at 9 pm Friday and Saturday, but the artists have the option, and many choose, to stay open later.
Visitors can get to the site:
• By car (garage and meter parking is plentiful)
• By bus (COTA will be running all weekend with stops along High and Front streets throughout Downtown)
• By bike (bike racks are available but take a lock). Bike parking is available in the 400 W. Rich gated lot, just west of the Big Local Music Stage. There is also a CoGo Bike rack in Bicentennial Park.
• And on foot.
The festival is free, of course, but visitors should be prepared to purchase artworks, food and beverages.
Festival staffers respectfully request that visitors don’t bring pets to the grounds.
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Artists from 36 states and one artist from Ontario, Canada, will display and sell their wares. Visitors will find paintings, drawings, glass works, sculptures, photographs, jewelry, fiber works, mixed-media pieces and more.
In addition to the artists who were juried into the festival, a number of central Ohio artists will show and demonstrate their works in the Big Local Arts Village.
Performances of music, theater, dance, poetry and more will continue throughout the hours the festival is open on three stages: the Bicentennial Park Stage (including Momentum dance at 5:30 pm and Shadowbox Live at 8:30 pm Friday, the Big Local Stage (including Laura Camara at 6:30 pm and the Deal Breakers at 9:30 pm Saturday; and the Cultural Arts Center Stage (inlcuding the Black Women Rise Poetry Collective beginning at 7 pm Saturday). On Saturday, pop-up performances, including the Ohio Story Workshop, will take place at Washington Avenue and Rich Street.
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food and drinks
There are no food tents this year, but there will be plenty of food trucks — as many as 40 offering, for example, barbecue, tacos, donuts, lobster, and cream puffs. Drinks will include lemonade, water and beer from beer vendor Rhinegeist. The proceeds from beer sales is one way the Greater Columbus Arts Council pays for the Arts Festival. All the beverage stands will have antibacterial stations.
“Film at the Fest” will present films all day and into the evening Friday and Saturday on an LED screen at Genoa Park, 303 W. Broad St. Documentaries and other films will be shown during the day with family features scheduled for Friday and Saturday Disney’s animated “One Hundred and One Dalmatians,” released in 1961, just prior to the very first Arts Festival, will be shown Saturday night.
Also new is the Rhinegeist beer garden and the return of performances by Shadowbox Live.
One of the most long-standing and popular features of the festival is the Children’s Art Gallery, where children can purchase a piece of art donated by a festival artist for $5 or less. Parents don’t go into the tent with them, but the kids can get purchasing help from art volunteers.
Also for the young ones, hands-on art activities will be offered Saturday and Sunday.
Kayaking and canoeing also will be available on the Scioto River from 11 am to 4 pm Saturday and Sunday. It’s free and on a first-come, first-served basis.
One of the most popular entertainment features of the 2019 festival was the Artist Wrestling League, “where live art and wrestling collide.” (You have to see it.) They’ll be back.
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More on parking
There are numerous parking structures, metered spaces on surrounding city streets and surface lots on both the east and west side of the river. You can even reserve your parking spot through ParkColumbus’ website: https://bit.ly/3NWXCqh. The link will show the garages close to the Scioto Mile. Not all of these garages may be available during the festival. For those with a disabled parking placard, marked spaces are available on the east side of Civic Center Drive between Town and Broad streets.
The following streets will close at noon on Wednesday and will re-open at 6 am on Monday.
• South Civic Center Drive/South Second Street from Broad to Mound streets
• South Civic Center Drive from Mound to Main streets (open to local traffic)
• Main Street (Rich Street west of the river) from east side of Lucas to Front Street
• Washington Boulevard from Main to Broad streets
• Rich Street (Town Street west of the river) from the east side of Lucas to Front Street (local traffic only starting at McDowell)
• Noble Street east side of South Second to South Civic Center Drive
• Jewett Alley from Mound to Main streets
• Town Street from Front Street to Civic Center Drive
• Belle Street from State to Main streets
• Starling Street from Town to Main streets
• Street closures are subject to change.
• Broad Street will remain open throughout the event.
Need more information?
Entertainment schedules, a map of the grounds, a roster of the artists and their mediums and more is available at the festival website: www.columbusartsfestival.org. This will serve as the festival’s digital guidebook. The only paper guide available this year will be a pocket map. The festival strives to be green.
The 2023 festival has already been scheduled — June 9-11 at the same riverfront location. “We’ll probably be there forever,” Goldstein said.