Festival of the Arts: The Nation's Largest All-Volunteer Arts Festival
"In 1969, a stabile (pronounced stay-beal), was installed downtown in front of City Hall. Twentieth century American artist Alexander Calder created it. Once the sculpture was in place, the people of Grand Rapids started thinking that they needed an arts festival to celebrate Calder's work.
So, in 1970, Festival was born. This three-day arts celebration, held the first full weekend in June in downtown Grand Rapids, attracts thousands of participating artists. Festival has grown from a few booths and food stalls into the nation's largest all-volunteer arts festival, with more than 20,000 volunteers and more than 500,000 people attending. It has grown so large that it is spread out over almost all of downtown - that's a monster of a festival!"
The above information came from the Library of Congress website. Festival is truly a huge event which starts at noon on Friday and ends approximately 5pm on Sunday. As you can see, the intended focus for Festival is on the arts. In contrast, one of the biggest draws attracting the crowds are the many food booths lining the streets of downtown Grand Rapids during Festival. In addition to the expected foods (ice cream, elephant ears) you will find many ethnic foods as well (Greek souvlaki, Vietnamese kabobs.)
There are a number of stages set up for various performances. There are also exhibits for crafts, as well as for photography. In addition, there are activities for children to enjoy and test their artistic flair, and there's face painting too!
The weather varies year to year, it can be sunny and hot, juuuuust right, or cold enough you'll need a sweatshirt or jacket. Rain is always a possibility.
When in Michigan, if someone offers to give you a "pop" they are not threatening you but rather offering to serve you a refreshment. "Pop" is what we call soda (or Coke if you're from the south.) People from other areas of the country make sure to correct you if you refer to soda as "pop."