Browse, eat, be entertained during 33rd Arts in the Heart of Augusta festival

MICHAEL HOLAHAN/FILE
People peruse the many arts and crafts booths at the 2012 Arts in the Heart of Augusta Festival.
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This weekend, cultural diversity in Augusta will take center stage downtown.

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Kasey Ortoski creates one-of-a-kind hair sculptures.  SPECIAL
SPECIAL
Kasey Ortoski creates one-of-a-kind hair sculptures.

Rather than shine a light on one country, the 33rd annual Arts in the Heart of Augusta will showcase the rich cultural history in the city with this year’s theme – A Celebration of Community.

Guests can sample cuisine from 20 countries, including three newcomers: Trinidad, France and Bulgaria, while they enjoy a wide variety of music from four stages and browse 110 booths filled with original arts and crafts.

All of last year’s arts winners will return this year, said Sallie West, the director of outreach for the Greater Augusta Arts Council.

They include first-, second- and third-place winners, respectively, Vintage Wonderland Designs, Wade Franklin Pottery and Aquatic Impressions.

The arts and crafts vendors will line Broad Street between Eighth and 10th streets, and hail from nine states. About a third of them are local, and more than a third are new to the festival.

“We have almost twice as many applicants (for the juried art show),” she said. “We get more and more competitive every year.”

Here is a guide to help you plan your weekend.

Parking

Parking near the festival will be at a premium. Be prepared to walk a couple of blocks. Lots will be open for festival parking at the following locations:

• TEE 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 Macartan 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.

Admission

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

Gates are on either side of Augusta Common at Reynolds Street, on Broad Street at Eighth Street, on Ninth Street, and on 10th Street at Broad Street. Tents at each of the gates will offer Arts in the Heart merchandise for sale, including original poster-sized artwork by Rhian Swain.

Get a map

New to the festival this year is an interactive map available for smartphones. Scan the the QR code available at locations around the festival or by visiting
artsintheheart.mobi.

The mobile app puts the festival at your fingertips, with entertainment schedules for all four stages, the locations of artist booths along with photographs of their work, and menus and prices for each of the countries.

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

What to browse

With more than 110 arts and crafts vendors to browse, there are plenty of wares to suit any taste and budget.

The festival is juried, which means artists who wish to participate must submit photographs of their work ahead of time and are chosen by a panel. This year, there were twice as many applicants as there were spaces, West said.

Jenny Clarke, the owner of Vintage Wonderland Designs, took first place last year with her jewelry made from repurposed antiques. Some of her pieces include necklaces made from shoe clips and watch faces and earrings from buttons. She looks for items to repurpose wherever she can find them.

“All of my pieces are one of a kind. I can’t recreate them,” she said.

This year, she will add a line of wedding jewelry and will offer consultations for brides or members of a bridal party to design their own pieces for that special day.

Artists in a variety of media will offer handmade items such as pottery, art glass, photographs, Gyotaku fish art to practical yet decorative brooms by The Broom Brothers.

What to watch

Live entertainment on four stages will offer acts that appeal to a wide variety of musical tastes, as well.

The Global Stage is the largest and will be located in the Global Village. The Global Village will encompass Augusta Common, with food tents representing 20 countries lining the asphalt walkways.

The Global Stage is near Reynolds Street. Here, the festival will officially begin with the ceremonial posting of the colors, the Mayoral Proclamation and the Parade of Nations at 6 Friday night.

After the ceremony, The Augusta Hoopers will perform hula hoop dances at 7:30 p.m., following by the Augusta-based fire dancers Pyroteque at 8 p.m.

The remainder of the weekend will feature a variety of cultural performances on the Global Stage, including dancers from the Philippines, Mexico, the Hindu Temple Society and China. The Augusta Chronicle’s AMPED Music Contest will take center stage at 5 p.m. Saturday to award the best original music from finalists chosen by readers, followed by headliner Mama Says at 8 p.m.

“We do a variety, all high energy,” said Mama Says front woman Chris Ndeti. “A little bit of funk, a little bit of blues, a little bit of rock. We put our spin on it.”

Ndeti will play a solo, acoustic set at 3:15 p.m. on the Troubadour Stage, like an appetizer before the main course, she said.

Sunday will feature more contemporary dance performances, as well as Flamenco and ballroom, with co-headliner AcostA taking the stage at 5:30 p.m.

The Community Stage at Eighth and Broad streets features vocal groups and choruses. Genres include rock, jazz, vocal harmonies and Christian rock.

The Augusta Singer-Songwriters Guild will present 10 local singer-songwriters beginning at 1 p.m. Sunday, including Adam Harris Thompson, John Lifsey and Ippie Music.

Acts on the Family Stage, located at Ninth and Broad streets, will offer plenty of dance groups. Stephanie’s Dance Explosion, Envy Dance of Augusta, Celtic Irish Dancers, Rhythm and Class Cloggers, the CSRA Belly Dancers and the German Friendship Dancers are all scheduled to perform.

The Troubadour Stage at Broad and Macartan streets feature mostly spoken word and quiet acoustic offerings. Poetry, Irish music, storytelling, improv and theater can all be found here.

LadyVee DaPoet will conduct a poetry writing workshop at 4:45 p.m. Saturday and the Promethean Fire Troupe will perform fire eating, breathing and spinning at 8 p.m. Saturday.

For the kids

McDonald’s is sponsoring a children’s area at Ninth and Broad streets.

While Mom and Dad check out the grilling demonstrations by Fireside Outdoor Kitchens, the kids can explore cultural diversity by sampling foods from countries and participating in hands-on arts and crafts. All activities here are free.

Also nearby is the Young Artists Market, where students from kindergarten to high school can sell their original artwork.

The only cost to participate is the price of admission. There is no required time limit – they can set up for two hours or two days.


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