Last year’s art festival in Haley Park was just a glimpse of what that event could be, an Ottawa Main Street Association official said.
Lenni Giacin, the association’s director, envisioned a bigger and livelier event in 2018, but needed a different venue other than Haley Park, Second and Main streets.
Giacin presented a plan Wednesday to the Franklin County Board of Commissioners to move the festival to the Franklin County courthouse lawn, 315 S. Main St., Ottawa. The commissioners gave Giacin permission to use the courthouse lawn for the event.
“We think it will grow,” Giacin said. “We wanted to keep it downtown. We need to have more of our events downtown.”
The Downtown Arts Festival is set for June 16, which will be a part of Ottawa Main Street’s Third Saturday events scheduled during the summer and fall months.
Giacin said the courthouse lawn setting will give the festival a homey atmosphere with the trees, the historic courthouse in the background, the Franklin County Veterans Memorial at the corner of Fourth and Main and the “Buffalo Woman” statue along Main.
“It will be a nice big area to expand in,” Giacin said. “We will try to keep it there. The stores downtown can provide special discounts [that day].”
Giacin said last year the festival attracted 10 artists and she expects to double or triple that number this year.
“We wanted it to encompass more artists and give them an opportunity to show their works,” she said. “We are celebrating all the arts. That includes music and dance.”
Giacin said the venue also will be more friendly to the festival visitors so they can move freely from artist to artist and other vendors.
“It will make it more pleasant,” she said.
Giacin said bands will perform throughout the day. Last year they had music groups play a variety of music from acoustic to country.
She said there will be different art available for viewing and for sale.
“Last year, we had some professional artists,” Giacin said. “A lot of it was studio artists.”
She said the art pieces range from abstract, photography, sunsets to landscapes.
“There will be a whole array of things that are out there,” Giacin said. “There were a lot of oils and acrylics last year. There were some charcoal drawings. Some of it was mystical looking.”
Ottawa Main Street, which set up a pop-up store downtown for local artists to show and sale their works during the holiday season, expects the festival to provide another avenue for the art community.
“We have a lot of artists [in Franklin County],” Giacin said. “We need to promote them more.”
She said the pop-up store drew people from surrounding towns and the Kansas City area to Ottawa. Giacin said events such as these help with tourism.
“Any unique store [or event] we have in Ottawa makes it a destination,” Giacin said. “Then they have somewhere to eat, shop and retreat to or come back for. We want to bring events downtown. We want to show them they can be entertained downtown. We are working on more things to intrigue people to come downtown.”