Sixth Annual Festival of the Arts Celebration Set to Begin Feb. 1

Festival of the ArtsThe much-anticipated Festival of the Arts will return for its sixth year, running Friday, Feb. 1 through Friday, March 1, with daily entertainment, educational and cultural events offered throughout Big Rapids and on the Ferris State University campus.

The 2013 festival promises a variety of concerts and other entertainment events, art and photography exhibits, and interactive opportunities such as workshops and contests. An opening reception will be hosted by Artworks at 7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 1, with refreshments courtesy of the Blue Cow Café and Great Lakes Office Products.

The reception will feature remarks by Detroit arts enthusiasts Saffell Gardner and Marion Hayden. Gardner’s work will be on display at Artworks throughout the festival, and Hayden, a nationally-renowned jazz bassist, will perform at the closing ceremony on March 1.

“We have a full and exciting month of arts planned,” said Ed Mallett, co-chair of the Festival of the Arts Board, which selected “Art Immersion” as the festival’s 2013 theme.

In all, the sixth annual festival, a collaboration between Ferris and the Big Rapids community, features 18 workshop opportunities; 17 concerts; seven theatrical productions; four competitions, foreign film showings and lectures by authors; and three month-long art exhibits and artist lectures; as well as a dance performance, a blacksmithing demonstration, an arts open house, a downtown art walk and a public sculpture unveiling.

“Creativity is applicable in all areas of life, from the dinner table to the dance floor, and just needs a little nurturing to flourish,” Mallett and co-chair Carrie Weis, Ferris Gallery director, wrote in an open letter to 2013 festival-goers.

Ferris President David Eisler called the annual event “a remarkable embodiment of the power of the creative spirit to bring people together.”

“Both Ferris State University and the city of Big Rapids embrace the arts, culture, diversity, inclusiveness and the power of the human experience,” said Eisler. “This is reflected throughout the festival’s schedule.”

Festival highlights will include performances by musicians Lucas Carpenter, Peter Mayer and Paul Vondiziano, a performance by dance troupe Happendance, and a discussion with notable Michigan author Joseph Heywood. Popular workshops in floral arrangement, drawing and welding will return for another year. A few festival events require tickets or advance registration for admission, but most are free and open to the public.

“I would invite all of our citizens to participate in the 2013 Festival of the Arts, joining Ferris State University and the Big Rapids community in celebrating all that we have to offer,” said Big Rapids Mayor Mark Warba.

For more information about the 2013 Festival of the Arts, including a program and complete schedule of events, visit

Last updated: 08-15-2013