In Springfield, Missouri, spring isn’t spring until Artsfest. This urban street celebration of all kinds of art, from theater to photography, marks the beginning of a wonderful time to be in the city. Trees and flowers are in bloom, nights are cool and refreshing, and the days are just warm enough to get out the shorts and find the sunscreen. Artsfest celebrated its 30th year this past weekend. We are so lucky to have this Arts fair take place right in front of the Walnut Street Inn. With the beautiful weather this year, estimates were that over 20,000 folks each day wandered Historic Walnut Street, purchased plants, paintings, jewelry, and sculptures, listened to amazing music, and of course, tasted their way around the world with great food!
My Artsfest staples are smoky bratwurst and corn on the cob, but this year, along with those, I added Indian food from Gem of India, one of our favorite restaurants for Sunday brunch. The corn guy challenged me to try something different from my normal butter, salt and pepper, and Cajun seasoning. He recommended the hot corn on the cob be lightly covered with mayonnaise, parmesan cheese, dribbled with lemon juice, and sprinkled liberally with chili seasoning....Okay, I’m game. It was delicious, but I went back later for a traditional ear just to be sure.
I love to walk the busy streets. I always run into friends I haven’t seen since last year’s Artsfest, or maybe not since college. Four stages of music (including one on the front lawn of the Walnut Street Inn) give you plenty of musical variety until you run into that old friend. Our Walnut Street Inn guests walk the street, select their lunch, then retire to the back porch of the Inn for a picnic under the umbrellas. After lunch, they often go off to their rooms for an early afternoon nap. When they wake, it is time for the three-block stroll through Artsfest to ArtsFiesta!, a celebration of Mexican music, dance, and food that goes on into the evening, this year featuring a female mariachi band from our sister city, Tlaquepaque, Mexico.
As I wandered the street, I overheard snippets of conversation - “We can buy a bunch of stuff now, we are almost back to our car!”, “I have $1.40 left, I wonder what I can spend it on”, “That snake guy is back again this year! Yuck!”, “Did you see the belly dancers? I could do that!” “...and then I went, I could tell Heather if I wanted to, but she went, If you do, I’ll tell Dad...”, “ Do you think we could tie it to the roof of the car?”
I love Artsfest. The best of spring and Springfield get together for just a moment in time to celebrate the arts, celebrate the rebirth of the planet and a plethora of reasons to be hopeful about the future. Our economy is still in the doldrums, and our incomes may be low, but our spirits are high as we walk from booth to booth, from friend to friend. Artsfest reminds us that we are not in this alone. We are in this together, and with the help and support of each other, life will go on.
Artsfest is sponsored by the Springfield Arts Council and is always the first Saturday and Sunday of May, and It is always right in front of the Walnut Street Inn!
For updates on next May’s Artsfest: http://www.springfieldarts.org/artsfest
Gary at Walnut Street Inn
900 E Walnut StreetSpringfield, MO 65806