Arts festival takes over downtown Marion

Marion Arts Festival
More than 12,000 visitors are expected at the Marion Arts Festival — photo courtesy of Marion Arts Festival

Marion Arts Festival

City Square Park — Saturday, May 16 at 9 a.m.

Marion’s City Square Park hosts the Marion Arts Festival (MAF) this Saturday, May 16 as it enters it’s 23rd year. With over 12,000 visitors expected to attend this year, MAF director Deb Bailey attributes much of the longevity and success of to the tight focus of the event, which is embodied in its mission: “No Bands. No Beer. Just Art.”

“About eight years ago, we decided to focus exclusively on art,” Bailey explained. “People buy, browse, talk with artists about how they made that, participate in art activities and enjoy our vintage uptown Marion setting.”

Empty Bowls Project
The Empty Bowls project raises funds for hunger relief agencies. — photo courtesy of Marion Arts Festival

Compared with other arts festivals, Marion’s is relatively small, with only 50 artists invited to participate. This year’s festival saw 344 applicants from 27 states and Canada apply for the available spots. Bailey believes the scale of their event gives MAF an edge.

“The MAF is literally the smallest, shortest show in the country, but this gives it an advantage,” Bailey said. “To present 50 artists to 12,000 people is a great ratio for the artists, and being a one-day event creates a certain energy. Its an improbable day. We’ve convinced ourselves it’s a perfect storm.”

In addition to artwork, a couple events highlight the festival including the Empty Bowls project, where area students create ceramic bowls that are then donated and sold to raise money for hunger relief agencies.

MAF also has a half marathon, 5K run and fun walk prior to the start of the festival at 7:30 a.m. on Saturday. Fees to enter either race range between $25-$40 and money raised from the walk goes to support the festival’s educational programs. Those who wish to attend can register online.

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