by: Jasper Intern Jake Margle
After a necessary rain check, the Rosewood Arts Festival will be back at Rockaway’s this Sunday, October 25. Hurricane Joaquin may have put a damper on spirits, but with the return of the sun comes Columbia’s much-loved, family-friendly arts festival, back for its fifth year and better than ever.
This year’s festival will have all of the familiar elements that made past festivals such a hit. With around 100 artists booth expected to fill the Rockaway’s parking lot, there is sure to be an eclectic mix of work to view and purchase, all the while keeping the intimate feel that has put the Rosewood Arts Festival at the top of local arts supporter’s favorite annual events.
New for this year is a literary section set to feature 15 authors, including the work of Robert Ariail, a prominent political cartoonist whose work is featured regularly in The State.
The festival makes good on its promise to features artwork of all types. This year the Columbia Children’s Theatre will be performing Pinocchio, sure to keep those performing arts lovers in the crowd happy.
Festival regular and Lexington local “Abstract” Alexandra will be returning once again with her unique brand of contemporary paintings and sculptures. She’s been featured in the festival since its first year and is pleased to see it stick to its roots while also growing.
“I love how every year they get new collectors and performances to come,” she said. “There’s always something new to see.”
In five years the festival has grown steadily out of the single parking lot behind Rockaway’s, where they had just a few booths and one stage. The growth has been far from explosive, but Festival Director Arik Bjorn thinks that its small size is part of the allure.
“The point of the festival has always been to be a family-friendly, pro-artist, pro-patron festival,” Bjorn said. “We’ve got a community that really likes art. We’ve got Shandon right over here and other neighborhoods that really aid in that community feel.”
Patrons and artists alike benefit from the intimacy of the event. Entering a booth in the festival only costs the artist $30, less than half of what other festivals charge. The public pays nothing to enter, an aspect that Bjorn thinks inspires more people to attend and may increase the likelihood that they will purchase a piece.
“They do a very good job at organizing,” Alexandra said. “Artists, we’re marathon runners. We have to create the art and then set up this little retail outlet and fix that up, we do so much work already. Arik and all the volunteers pick up any slack and offer so much help, and that means a lot to the artist.”
The question on everyone’s mind is, will the festival expand past its current state?
“Oh no, it will always be here,” Bjorn said. There are plans to make room for more booths in the surrounding areas, but Rockaway’s will always be its home.
“We do this so artists can showcase their wares and make it worth their while,” Bjorn said. “We’re very content right now just to grow at the speed that we are.”