Annual downtown Arts in the Heart of Augusta festival begins Friday

Dennis Sleister (left) and Tom Mershon set up a couple of Coke stands for Arts in the Heart on the Augusta Commons. It takes about five days of preparation to get ready for an event like Arts in the Heart.



The 33rd annual Arts in the Heart of Augusta will celebrate the city’s cultural diversity downtown this weekend.

Rather than one country being highlighted, 20 countries will take center stage, and three – Trinidad, France and Bulgaria – are new to the festival.

Opening ceremonies begin at 6 p.m. Friday on the Global Stage, near Reynolds Street at Augusta Common.

The festival, which will cover two blocks of Broad Street and the common, will feature more than 110 arts and crafts vendors.

All of last year’s winners in the juried art competition will return, including Vintage Wonderland Designs, Wade Franklin Pottery and Aquatic Impressions.

New this year is an interactive map available for smartphones. QR codes are available around the festival. The map also is available at It includes the location of vendors, with photographs of their work, entertainment schedules, and menus and prices for the Global Village.

“It’s much easier to work with than a paper map that you’re opening and trying to keep up with,” said Sallie West, the outreach director for the Greater Augusta Arts Council.

Entertainment on four stages will offer acts that appeal to a wide variety of musical tastes. Cultural performances on the Global Stage will include dances from the Philippines, Mexico and the Hindu Temple Society, along with main events such as The Augusta Chronicle’s AMPED Music Contest at 5 p.m. Saturday, and headliners Mama Says (8 p.m. Saturday) and AcostA (5:30 p.m. Sunday).

The Troubadour Stage at Broad and McCartan streets will feature acoustic music and spoken-word performances. Vocal groups and choruses will perform on the Community Stage at Eighth and Broad streets, and the Family Stage at Ninth and Broad streets will feature mostly dance groups.

Kids can explore cultural diversity by sampling foods from other countries and participate in hands-on arts and crafts at a children’s area sponsored by McDonald’s. All activities there are free.

A Young Artists Market will offer students in kindergarten through high school the opportunity to sell their own original artwork.

“It’s just kind of a way to give them a taste of how to make money making art,” West said.

Tickets cost $10 at the gate and are good for the weekend. Children 10 and younger are free.

For more information, visit

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Lots will be open for festival parking at the following locations:

• Augusta Convention Center parking garage, 921 James Brown Blvd.

• Pensioner’s Depot, 511 Reynolds St.

• Bell Auditorum, 712 Telfair St.

• James Brown Arena, 601 Seventh St.

• Municipal building, 530 Greene St.

Street closings

The following streets will close at the times listed and will reopen Sunday after the festival is over:

• Eighth and Ninth streets between Ellis and Broad streets, and McCartan Street between Jones and Broad streets will close at midnight Tuesday.

• Broad Street will close between Eighth and 10th streets at 5 p.m. Thursday, but the parking lots will be accessible. The lots, and northbound Ninth Street between Jones and Broad streets, will close at midnight Thursday for the duration of the festival.

• At 9 a.m. Friday, southbound Eighth Street will be closed for half of a block before the intersection of Eighth and Broad streets, and Reynolds Street between Eighth and Ninth streets will close.