Another first weekend in June rolls around, bringing with it one of my favorite things to do as a Grand Rapidian - attend Festival! For those of you from lands afar, Festival, or the Grand Rapids Festival of the Arts, is the largest outdoor cultural festival in the state and features all forms of art including culinary, dance, fine art, music and film (sometimes, if you're lucky, an unscheduled performance art group may even pop up when you least expect it!). Although some have poo-poo'd Festival in the last few years because they feel it has turned into a festival of food (we Michiganders love our chow - henceforth we are the fattest state in the nation!!!), I still look forward to June 3rd with high anticipation, knowing that Festival time is near.
This year definitely did not disappoint. When our family of four packed ourselves into the Big Fat Van, the skies were iffy with greyness and clouds. Not that I minded, since I had been to a few Festivals where the heat of the sun was brutal and fierce - but wouldn't ya know, the gods of Festival came through and produced beautiful sunshine just as we arrived at the Glue-In.
Traditionally, my parents would always take me to the Paint-In . Back in the 70's, the set-up was a tad different-with bleachers set up around the Paint-In so parents could watch their kids paint, as one would watch a ballgame. Nowadays, parents are still not allowed into the "creation" areas (so as not to interrupt the natural creative flow), and are made to stand in the middle of a hot concrete parking lot while waiting for the little artists to finish their masterpieces. It's all worth it, though, when little Johnny comes running out with a face-wide grin, exclaiming "Mama! Look what I made!!!"
With sweat dripping down our backs, our little family made a quick tour of the Festival grounds, soaking in little bits of Jazz, gospel choirs, "Spin Art", Rap, and the various smells of the multi-cultural food booths. We didn't hang around very long, since it was Hayden's first adventure since the hospital and the grill smoke was making him cough a bit.
My favorite part of festival, besides the art aspect, is people watching. I had to scan the crowds at record pace this year, but I had fun looking at the young parents with their look-alike kids, the teenage couples, the trendy girls who think they are the next "Carrie" from "Sex and the City"(I felt sorry for them, thinking about how much their high-heeled feet were going to kill after all that Festival walking ; ] ), the homeless musicians, the punks, the Amish (who were smart and brought their own lunch in Tupperware containers!) the Yuppies, the Hippies (neo and old alike) and all the range of colors one can imagine. Not once did I see a grimace, all were seemingly happy to be out on such a glorious sun-filled Festival Saturday.