29th Arts in the Alley to blend old favorites, new additions

Staff Writer
Columbus Parent

Life is full of things people would rather avoid: death and taxes, jury duty and dental appointments, broken shoelaces and bad decisions.

This weekend's 29th annual Arts in the Alley festival will celebrate the things that make for a full life, and a full tummy.

What was once upon a time, as the name implies, art displayed primarily in downtown alleys has long since been taken to the streets of Town Center. That will again be the venue for the Sept. 20-21 event featuring more than 100 juried artist and craft booths, free musical entertainment and an expanded variety of food offerings.

Hours for one of the major annual events for the Grove City Area Chamber of Commerce will be 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.

Admission and parking are free.

"I really think it's coming together," chamber executive director William Diehl said recently. "I'm so thrilled with the volunteers. It's definitely very difficult if you don't have the volunteers to help you."

Arts in the Alley, now a "virtual sea of tents and people covering most of the Town Center district," according to a chamber press release, will have 117 booths this year, said Marilyn L. Reiner, membership director for the chamber.

New exhibitors this year will include a broom-maker (not an easy thing to find, according to Reiner), a stone-cutter who creates jewelry from semi-precious stones and a "wheat-weaver" who produces wreathes and ornaments.

A booth where the techniques for creating tie-dye fashions will return, as will demonstrators making chain mail, Reiner said. Glass-blowing will be performed, a potter's wheel will be turned and jewelry will be made out of bottle caps for onlookers, she added.

The members of the juries selecting participants for this year's Arts in the Alley employed very strict criteria with the goal of keeping the quality as high as possible, according to Diehl.

"We've concentrated on variety and quality, not quantity," he said.

The fine arts and crafts will be on display at City Hall, with the former in Council Chambers and the latter in the lobby. The quilt show will be at St. John Evangelical Lutheran Church. The youth and adult photography entries will be held in the Grove City Library while the youth art event is to be inside the Municipal Safety Complex.

There will be more food booths than in years past, Diehl added.

These booths will also have a wider variety of offerings for 2008, Reiner said, including fried bologna sandwiches, kettle corn and Philly cheese steak sandwiches from a local Cub Scout troop.

Musical entertainment will be practically constant and, again, varied.

"We've tried to appeal to everybody, from jazz to swing to rock to country," Diehl said.

The Grove City High School Marching Band will kick things off Saturday at 11 a.m., followed throughout the day by a rhythm and blues group, a show choir, country music, Big Band performance and ending with various blues musicians. Sunday's musical offerings start out at 11 with a jazz group and conclude at 4 with another one, with a show choir, pop group and R&B band sandwiched in between.

The show awards are to be presented Sunday at 3 p.m.

These include the Grove City Easel Purchase Award, formerly the Mayor's Award, a top prize of $1,750 for the best work depicting the city's past, present or future. Also to be presented will be the Helena McComb Award of $500 for the best floral entry in all categories and a $250 People's Choice Award to be determined by voting at the competition sites.

The chamber executive praised the cooperation received from Grove City and Jackson Township employees in helping ready the Town Center for the annual arts festival.

"You just have to recognize those people," Diehl said.

This year's co-chairmen for Arts in the Alley are John Dunn of the Monterey Care Center and Debbie Rider from the Credit Union of Ohio.

Event chairs