ATHENS TOWNSHIP — Sadness struck the community following May’s announcement that the popular annual Athens ArtsFest had come to an end following its 18th year.
Just a month after hearing the news, a committee, consisting of Athens Area School District art teachers Kurt Priester and Dr. Andrew Wales, local business owners, artisans and Team ArtsFest members, had formed to create a new event to take the place of ArtsFest, titled Athens Arts4All.
“Like most people, we were a little stunned and a little, not upset, but dismayed at the loss of ArtsFest,” said Priester during Tuesday’s Athens Area School District Board of Education meeting. “We decided that we just could not let it go. It meant too much for the community and to the kids.”
Arts4All is slated for May 5 and 6 of 2018, the same weekend that ArtsFest had fallen on annually.
Priester stated that the event will be held entirely inside the Harlan Rowe Middle School outside of the food vendors and specific artisans that would require an outdoors setting — such as a chainsaw artist.
“It’s a shame for 15 years it was beautiful and for the last three years it rained,” remarked Priester about some of the problems that ArtsFest faced.
It will include a lot of similar things that ArtsFest had offered in the past but will also add some of its own ideas, including offering adult art classes.
Superintendent Craig Stage related that the focal point of the Arts4All event will be on the students.
Priester stated that students’ art work will be displayed and he hopes that there will be student vendors at the event as well.
The event has already begun to be revolved around the students of the Athens Area School District as students in eighth through 12th grades competed in a logo design contest, with the winning logo being featured on the shirts for the event and as its official logo.
Along with the focus on the art of the students, the music offered at the event will be geared toward the students as well.
Priester related that contact has already been made with the music departments of the district and several student-driven acts are already in the works. All music will be hosted within the L.G.I. of the Harlan Rowe Middle School.
A 5K run and walk will also be held as part of the event.
School Board President Robert Fauver expressed his concern of fitting the large crowds that ArtsFest once drew into the hallways of Harlan Rowe.
Priester believes that through the rebranding and the downsizing of the number of vendors — which will be nearly half of what ArtsFest offered — that typical ArtsFest driven numbers will not turn out, although he hopes they do.
“I know you probably will,” said Fauver about drawing ArtsFest type numbers. “It’s a well-known weekend. I’m just worried that if you’re trying to downsize I don’t know how you’re going to do that. People have that (weekend) circled on their calendar.”
Wales added that all of Harlan Rowe Middle School will be utilized as opposed to the approximate half that ArtsFest had used in years passed.
More information about the event can be found at www.athensarts4all.com and on Facebook and Instagram at “Athens Arts4All.”