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Broad strokes of ArtFest

From art to food to music, everyone will find some enjoyment at annual festival

As many as 30,000 people will find something to feed the soul, not to mention the stomach, at ArtFest this weekend.

They’ll be browsing more than 110 artist booths, roaming through a food-vendor area and listening to music while sitting in a beer and wine garden.

ArtFest is Spokane’s premier outdoor juried art festival, staged by the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture.

It takes place just a couple of blocks away from the museum, at Coeur d’Alene Park in Browne’s Addition (which is in Spokane, not in Coeur d’Alene, by the way).

This year, ArtFest celebrates its 25th year. Here are a few reasons why it has become one of Spokane’s biggest and most colorful cultural institutions:

• ArtFest takes the word “juried” seriously. The artists and crafters must reach a high artistic standard to make it into the festival.

• The browsing variety is outstanding. You’ll find paintings, metalwork, jewelry, sculpture, photography, musical instruments, woodwork, pottery, glass art, fine toys, prints – and a few genres you didn’t even know existed, such as “fantastic fish fabricated from post-consumer recyclables” (Rik Nelson).

• The artists converge from all over Washington, Idaho and Oregon – and beyond. Some come from California, Montana and British Columbia. You can see the artists demonstrate their techniques at a number of demonstrations.

• You can go home with a trunkload of one-of-a-kind art pieces, all of which are for sale.

• There’s plenty for kids to do. An area called Make It Art! is dedicated to face painting, fish-printing and many other kid-friendly projects. In addition, magicians, stilt-walkers, a one-man band and even a bubbillusionist will roam the grounds.

• A live musical stage features a nonstop mix of folk, Celtic, blues, jazz, big band, soul, bluegrass and Latin sounds.

• You can listen to the music while eating food from a variety of vendors. This year, in addition to the regular fair-style food vendors, there will be a half-dozen artisan food booths. A beer and wine garden sits near the stage.

This year’s ArtFest will feature some notable music headliners, including the local nine-piece soul band Soul Proprietor, the hot local Latin band Milonga and a top rock-blues band from Puget Sound, Becki Sue and Her Big Rockin’ Daddies.

This year’s festival also features a particularly inventive T-shirt design: an octopus wielding paintbrushes, spelling out the letters ArtFest, by top local artist Mel McCuddin.

T-shirts can be purchased for $10; the original painting will be raffled off during the festival.