Summer hasn't officially started, yet, but Iowa City Summer of the Arts is upon us.
Kicking off the procedings will be the Iowa Arts Festival, a three day event starting Friday night featuring 123 local and regional artists selling their work in downtown Iowa City, as well as live music, live art demonstrations, a culinary row and events for kids.
With Iowa City Arts Festival being so successful, Summer of the Arts organizers have a tough act to follow, but executive director Lisa Barnes said they are excited with some of the new additions they've added to the 29th Iowa Arts Festival celebration. Barnes said that organizers have been able to add these new tweaks while still featuring the events that have made the Arts Festival a popular annual event.
One major change is the addition of Friday night to the schedule, as the Arts Festival is typically held on Saturday and Sunday only.
"That's something that we haven't done before," Barnes said. "We made this change because we have had both artists and the public request that it be open on Friday since our performances kick off at the same time."
This will also allow the festival goers to participate in the with art displays at local businesses, which is also being held Friday night.
The festival starts 4 p.m. Friday with the opening of Culinary Row, followed by the opening of a beverage garden and art fair where artists will display their work at 5 p.m. Musical performances start at 7 p.m. with Friday's lineup of the Pines, Pieta Brown with Bo Ramsey, and Greg Brown.
Other musical groups will perfom later in the weekend, including the well known Los Lobos. The full festival schedule can be found here.
Barnes said also new this year will be live arts demonstrations sponsored by local businesses on Washington Street. Some demonstrations include: wood turning, a children's author and illustrator, fabric painting, pastel painting, oil and acrylic, and iron working.
"We wanted to do something where we could have local businesses get involved and also show actual artists at work," Barnes said.
Nearby in the U.S. Bank parking lot at the intersection of Linn and Washington Streets there will be an Emerging Artist Pavillion where college students and some high school artists will have the opportunity to price their art and try to sell their works to the public.
"Iowa City does a good job of really supporting and promoting young artists, and we just thought this would be a good opportunity for young people to participate and feel like they are actually a part of an art fair," Barnes said.
Barnes said the goal was to build on the kid friendly vibe by such kid events as the Global Village, which is a section of the Pedestrian Mall where kids can learn about different cultures by visiting different nation-themed booths from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday.
To make the event even more family friendly, this year the Arts Festival will feature a tent aimed at mothers with babies who also want to enjoy the festival. This tent will include changing tables, enclosed privacy areas for breastfeeding, and play areas for toddlers.
The festival runs through Sunday. To learn more about what will be available at the 2012 Iowa Arts Festival, visit its website here.