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Big Rapids Festival of the Arts Offers Diverse Entertainment in February

Ferris State UniversityVenues throughout the city of Big Rapids and on the Ferris State University campus will be utilized to present a wide-ranging array of artistic presentations, as the Big Rapids Festival of the Arts continues through Sunday, Feb. 26.

More than a dozen of the events will take place on campus, including film screenings, musical performances and demonstrations, according to Courtney Piercey, festival board member and Ferris adjunct Humanities instructor.

“The festival is a wonderful collaborative effort of the university and the Big Rapids community,” Piercey said. “We have sought to make this a diverse collection of events throughout the month of February.”

A schedule, including more than 70 events, has been developed for the 2017 festival, which began on Saturday, Jan. 28. Piercey said the opportunities are varied, and a number of free events, including performances, workshops and demonstrations, are available for audiences of all ages.

“We hope everyone likes the Festival, on Facebook, and finds something that meets with their tastes,” Piercey said. “There are 11 different art forms being presented. The Festival board, a composite of interested members of the community, encourages the campus and public to take part. Checking on social media will help our audiences know about any weather-related issues or other developments.”

Some notable musical presentations include “The Pirates of Penzance,” the Gilbert and Sullivan comic opera, on Tuesday and Wednesday, Feb. 14-15, at Immanuel Lutheran Church. Piercey said the Flat River Big Band will head up a swing dance night at the Holiday Inn Hotel and Conference Center Ballroom.

“The Grand Rapids Symphony will return to the festival Sunday, Feb. 19, for an afternoon performance at the Big Rapids High School auditorium,” Piercey said. “Their performances have traditionally drawn large audiences, as it is a free performance with a talented collection of artists.”

Symphony percussionist David Hall will be featured in a concerto for solo marimba and orchestra, at the BRHS auditorium.

An artist participating in the festival will see his work provide a continuing influence on the community, as “Cosmo-Joe,” or Andy Watkins, will create panels using his unique spray-painting method throughout the week at the new Salvation Army store, located at 218 N. Michigan Ave. He will also visit area schools during his visit.

Big Rapids City Manager Mark Gifford reports after the panels are unveiled, at the closing reception in Williams Auditorium at 4 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 26, they will be stored until weather conditions allow them to be installed on the eastern wall of the AT&T building, at Mitchell Court and Maple Street.

PHOTO CAPTION: The annual Big Rapids Festival of the Arts is underway, and will continue through Sunday, Feb. 26. Ferris associate professor of Welding Dave Murray is leading an Introductory Welding for Artists workshop on Tuesday evenings beginning Feb. 7.