ArtsFest continues for 34th year in Statesboro
By Lauren Gorla and Matt Sowell
Photo Slideshow by Chelsea Davis
STATESBORO, GA- Last weekend ArtsFest, an annual festival of art which takes place in Sweetheart Circle, was celebrated at Georgia Southern University for the 34th year. But the event almost didn’t happen.
In January, the GSU arts department announced that it would no longer be hosting the festival. The community was outraged, since the event has been a longstanding tradition for both the Statesboro and GSU communities. But, the Statesboro Parks and Recreation department stepped up to organize the event.
“We’ve been taking, as staff, we’ve been taking our children for years and always loved the event and it was always well run and we just thought ‘well we can do that and try to keep it going as a community event,’” Broni Gainous, marketing coordinator for Statesboro
Parks and Recreation, said. “And we started doing some investigating and some negotiations and we got it.”
Even though GSU would no longer formally host the event, departments on campus were happy to see ArtsFest continue.
"We are very excited that the Statesboro-Bulloch County Parks and Recreation Department, in conjunction with other community partners, has assumed leadership of ArtsFest 2016,” Robert Farber, chair of the Betty Foy Sanders Department of Art, said in an email. “We understand the importance of the festival for the community and a number of BFSDoArt students have volunteered for the event.”
When a rumor began that Statesboro Parks and Recreation was interested in running the event, calls from partners and sponsors began flooding in.
“As soon as we had the rumor I guess that people heard that we were thinking about it, we had sponsors calling, we had community partners calling like the Averitt Center for the Arts and said ‘listen don’t worry about the community stage we’ll schedule everything with that,’” Gainous said. “ All of that partnership...we had probably ten or twelve partners and sponsors that really stepped up and helped us organize it. If twelve people call me from a rumor, then that’s an impact.”
Gainous said that she hoped moving the event to being hosted by Parks and Recreation would encourage Statesboro community members to attend.
“For years, I didn’t take my children because I thought it was more of a Georgia Southern thing and it wasn’t until my daughter just begged to go that I said okay, we’ll try it and I was really amazed the first time I went because it’s just a fun event,” Gainous said.
GSU still played a role in the event even though they had passed the hosting torch along; ArtsFest was yet again held on Sweetheart Circle and had over four thousand attendees.
As usual, the event was a hit. This year included 10 art vendor stations, five of which were returners from last year. There was also live entertainment like the GSU Jazz Ensemble and the Statesboro Youth Ballet.
ArtsFest is held annually in the spring semester, and no details have yet been released about next year’s event. Statesboro Parks and Recreation plans to host it on GSU’s campus as long as it approves the event.