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‘I’m super stoked to be back:’ Festival of the Arts in full swing for first time in 3 years

Posted at 7:43 PM, Jun 03, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-04 11:50:18-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Hundreds of people flooded downtown Grand Rapids on Friday for this year’s Festival of the Arts. The beloved event returned for the first time since 2019.

“It’s really exciting. I’m super stoked to be back,” said volunteer Jenni Kasul. “Festival is like my favorite part of the summer kick-off everything. And, I really really really miss that part of my heart.

When the coronavirus broke out in March 2020, the festival that year and in 2021 was much smaller with fewer stages and little to no food.

However, this year they’re back in full swing with 16 food tents, many them run by nonprofits, schools, and churches trying to raise money for their organization.

“Well the Kenowa Hills Instrumental Music Boosters is the organization that supports the band and orchestra for Kenowa Hills at the middle school and high school levels,” said Michelle Geesin, vice president of the KHMB. “So, all of our funds raised go to the general fund. It helps with band uniforms, scholarship, band camp, music, instrument purchase. So, many different things and we really count on Festivals of the Arts as one of our largest fundraisers of the year.”

Geesin said they’re hoping to raise $10,000. They’re selling garlic shrimp with garlic bread among other foods at their booth. Throughout the day, dozens of people waited in line to buy some.

There's also shaved ice at Frostbite which the owner Justin Hawkin shaves straight from an ice block and into a bowl that's quickly doused with flavors and fruit like pineapple and raspberries.

Organizers said this year there’s four stages with live bands and performances. There’s also, for the first time since 1970, a beer tent.

Thousands of people are expected to attend over the next few days.

“I love festival. It’s been 50 years for me,” said Kim Denton, operations volunteer. “To do this again, I’m looking forward to doing another 50. So, absolutely, I’m thrilled.

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