Fall is in the air and one thing is certain — I’m looking forward to ARToberFEST, The Grand 1894 Opera House’s 23rd annual festival dedicated to the creative arts.

It probably won’t come as a surprise to discover that we’ve headed in a very new direction, given the current restrictions on large gatherings.

This year, ARToberFEST will be completely virtual, and Sarah Piel, The Grand’s festival coordinator, is making sure it’s vivid, complete with colorful artist booths, demonstrations, intermittent live music and more. Instead of a two-day weekend, this year’s event will run from Oct. 17 through Oct. 31 with added activities during the first weekend.

Log onto www.artoberfest.com, and you will be able to participate from the comfort and safety of your home, office, cabin in the woods, the beach — anywhere.

Discover original works of art in a fun, free and completely online atmosphere while you engage your inner shopper. You will be charmed as you visit each artist’s booth, connect with them directly and purchase one-of-a-kind pieces you’ve been searching for.

Purchases from multiple vendors can fill your shopping cart and be purchased with one easy click. While wandering the virtual site, you also will be able to visit participating Postoffice Street merchants, including galleries, boutiques and restaurants. You may even stumble upon a local chef or bartender demonstrating their talents.

Additional activities for the first weekend, Oct. 17-18, will include an opportunity to view one or more artist demonstration videos presented throughout the day. This is your chance to find the answer to “How did they create that?”

Musical performances by talented local artists Wayne Holt and Jim and Ellie Byrom are yours to enjoy on Oct. 17-18, with performance times available on the festival’s website.

The Grand 1894 Opera House is honored to present ARToberFEST each year to raise awareness of the arts, build friendships and benefit our educational programming. The arts matter — all the arts — and we will return from our current climate stronger and more vital than ever. It has been so exciting to embark upon this new virtual project, but it has also become clear that in the future ARToberFEST will include a virtual component while offering our traditional in-person event.

Out of respect and concern for our artists and visitors, we’ve made this year’s event free. We do ask that you consider a donation in any amount, a portion of which will be dedicated to supporting a Ball High School senior who will pursue an art discipline on the college level.

I hope we will “see you” at ARToberFEST and ask that you please share www.artoberfest.com with your friends and family everywhere, so they too can participate in our vividly virtual event.

Shelley Kessler is president of the board of directors for The Grand 1894 Opera House.

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(1) comment

Bailey Jones

[thumbup] Thanks for this - it looks like a lot of fun.

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