7 New Columbus Arts Festival Experiences

Kristen Schmidt

Photo Credit: Courtesy Columbus Arts Festival

Folks mark the unofficial start of summer with a slew of events-Asian Festival at Franklin Park, the Memorial Tournament. For me, the arrival of Columbus Arts Festival means the season has truly begun. Though the festival has been going on for decades, organizers come up with fresh experiences every year.

The Neal McCoy

Arts Festival has really stepped up its live entertainment game in the last couple of years. Country music star Neal McCoy headlines the main stage on Friday night. Country not your cup of tea? Duck into tents (many of them air-conditioned) featuring jazz and blues, acoustic music, dance, spoken word performance and theater.

Find the Big Brownie

Not the fudgy one, either. Artist Stephen Takacs is bringing his Brownie in Motion Project, a traveling art installation, portable darkroom and working camera obscura to the festival. Visitors are invited to step inside the giant box decked out to look like a vintage Kodak Brownie camera. Find it just south of Main and South Second streets on the edge of the park.

Try your hand at glass sculpting

Glass Axis, the glass studio and gallery that moved to Franklinton late last year, will be helping aspiring artists sculpt glass beads with the use of a torch. The activity is open to everyone 8 and older. (Younger kids can help string finished beads onto bracelets.)

Step right up to the Big Local Art Tent

Though the festival does include some Columbus and Ohio artists, it's a draw for artists from all over the country. Columbus artists and artisans have their own spot at the festival inside this tent. Stop by to see demos of jewelry making, pottery throwing, lathe turning (by Devon Palmer, who was featured in our 2014 "Single in the City" feature), marionettes and even chainmaille.

Take a selfie with Art Shark

Art Shark is the enthusiastic, creative mascot of Arts Festival (see Art Shark bumper stickers all over the city), and festival organizers seem to come up with new ways to incorporate him into the fun every year. This time around, visitors are being encouraged to find Art Shark, take a selfie with him ("because he is awesome") and hashtag it #CbusArtShark.

Put art on the map

Sign Your Art is street art for the masses. Festival visitors are invited to create a piece of art on a 6-by-8-inch wood tile. About 300 of them will be installed in groups of five on street signs in strategic locations across the city which will … wait for it … spell the word "art" on a Google pin map of Columbus. See what they did there? Participating or not, look for these installations around the city mid-summer.

Tweet and go seek

Join this Twitter scavenger hunt for a chance to win prizes all weekend. Start by following @tweetandgoseek or #tweetandgoseek on Twitter and Instagram. Local artist Matthew Richard Barnes (@misterbarnes) will post clues to help hunters find artworks around Downtown. Find the tile and follow instructions on the back to claim your prize, which could be movie tickets, festival VIP passes or even a membership to the Columbus Museum of Art.