Fifth Annual Festival of the Arts Set to Begin Jan. 25

Festival of the ArtsThe local arts community is already abuzz as the start of the fifth annual Festival of the Arts celebration is set to officially begin on Wednesday, Jan. 25 and run through Wednesday, Feb. 29.

The month-long event is highlighted by workshops and performances that feature local creative talent in addition to visits by regional and national artists and innovators. Artworks will host the festival’s kickoff, an event that is free and open to the public, on Monday, Jan. 30 at 6 p.m., with catering provided by the Blue Cow Café and Great Lakes Office Products. The opening reception will feature remarks by artist Winifred Godfrey as well as an opportunity to meet artist Linda Stephen. Godfrey’s “Mayan Procession” and Stephen’s Origami exhibitions will be on display at Artworks through Feb. 25.

“This wonderful cultural celebration has transformed the month of February in Big Rapids,” said David Eisler, president of Ferris State University. “At a time when we see many communities and institutions pulling back their support for painting, music, literature, dance and other creative endeavors, Big Rapids and Ferris State University stand out in our dedication to the arts.”

Those sentiments were echoed by Stephen Ross, president of the Artworks Board.

“In the middle of winter, the Festival’s variety of events presents a great way to break up the doldrums of the season and awaken the senses,” he said. “It is a great way to stimulate creativity and find inspiration. The Festival of the Arts is truly a collaborative effort between Ferris State University and the Big Rapids community to provide instruction and entertainment that often only larger cities get to enjoy.”

The opening reception is one of many 2012 Festival of the Arts events that are free of charge and open to the public. This year’s celebration features a diverse range of opportunities for local and university community members to embrace the arts and to share their creativity at little or no cost, largely as the result of volunteerism and teamwork on the part of festival supporters from within the Ferris and Big Rapids communities.

Among the highlighted events will be a performance by the Mariachi Nacional Band on Saturday, Feb. 4 at halftime of the Ferris men’s and women’s basketball games in Jim Wink Arena. Later in the evening, the band will perform in the Crossroads Charter Academy High School Auditorium beginning at 7 p.m. Llorenç Mendoza-Ruiz, an acclaimed and award-winning Spanish conductor, will perform “The Bands of Spain” with Ferris’ own Richard Scott Cohen, a professor of Music, on Thursday, Feb. 16 at 11 a.m. The month-long festival also features performances by bands from local schools as well as a performance on Sunday, Feb. 12 at 4 p.m. by the Grand Rapids Symphony in the Big Rapids High School Auditorium, with David Lockington as music director. Their performance is titled, “ArtPrize Meets Festival of the Arts” and it is free and open to the public.

This year’s co-chairs of the Festival of the Arts are Carrie Weis and Ed Mallett.

The 2012 Festival of the Arts runs from Wednesday, Jan. 25 through Wednesday, Feb. 29. For more details, visit online at

Last updated: 07-24-2012