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The returns Saturday and Sunday for its 55th year. The art showcase is a favorite of not only mid-Michigan but the national art festival scene. It’s routinely ranked by art magazines as a hot destination.
The festival reliably elicits the spectacle of thousands of people thrust into East Lansing’s small downtown district, and there’s never a shortage of things to do.
“We have a lot going on,” laughed festival director Michelle Carlson.
Attendees can find themselves overwhelmed with not only the absurd amount of artists and vendors, but with three live music stages — each catering to a different taste. There’s the main stage reserved for larger headlining acts, the family stage featuring childrenfriendly music and the smaller acoustic stage for local singers and songwriters.
The demonstration area will have artists creating their work for audiences in real time. For children, the art creation won’t just be a spectator sport — the young ones can be coached with the festival’s partnering artists to make unique pieces of their own, which they can take home.
The festival will unveil a new installation that was done in collaboration with the American Institute of Architects’ Michigan chapter. It will be prominently displayed in the center of the festival’s space.
Adding to already exhausting list of activities, East Lansing Arts Festival will have its own pop-up gallery. And, of course, you have the people’s choice award, where festival-goers will vote on their favorite piece.
The festival has had to adapt to downtown construction.
“Eleven years ago was much bigger, a lot more artists — I think we had around 220. This year we have around 168,” Carlson said. “That's just because we don't have the space anymore along the street, because there's been new buildings going up since then. The downtown has changed a lot, so that's one thing. We've expanded to encompass other performing arts.”
The five-and-a-half-decade tradition of the festival has made it a generational event for mid-Michigan folks. “A lot of people have been coming with their parents, and now they're parents, and they're bringing their kids. That's exciting to have the generations,” Carlson said.
“The community really loves art, and is knowledgeable. They like having conversations with patrons. People buy art, so that's why they like to come back. I think that's why we're so successful.”
East Lansing Art Festival
Free to Attend Saturday, May 19, Sunday, May 20 Downtown East Lansing 410 Abbot Road www.elartfest. com (517) 319-6804