East Lansing Art Festival back in action this weekend

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A bustling art bazaar, musicians playing their hearts out, children chasing each other and people just trying to take a break and relax in the shade. That’s what the East Lansing Art Festival hopes to get back to this weekend, even if it’s a little scaled back, after being forced to go digital-only last year during the coronavirus pandemic. 

The festival this year has nearly 80 artist booths — about half as many featured during an average pre-pandemic year — that will be spaced out along Albert Street and M.A.C. Avenue. Though the festival has a smaller lineup, the diversity of artforms covered by this year’s roster still has a lot to offer. Among the bases covered are precious jewelry, glassware, drawing, woodworking, sculpture and several different forms of digital art and photography. 

“We have about half as many artists as before, so booths can be further apart. There’s more space for people to hangout and move between the booths,” Heather Majano, East Lansing Arts Festival and Arts Initiative coordinator, said.

Great food, another staple of the East Lansing Art Festival, is thankfully returning. Normally situated at the Bailey Parking Lot, the food trucks and vendors will instead be found on the portion of Albert Street between Bailey Street and Division Street. Live entertainment from performers like All-of-us-Express and musicians like Ozay Moore will also go down throughout both days.

Young attendees to the festival will find a lot to keep them busy as well. The festival this year features several children’s activity tents run by the Michigan State University Broad Art Lab and the East Lansing Library, which will have a bunch of fun art activities where children can participate. Each tent will also feature take-and-make options, where children can take the necessary materials with them, so they can do the art lesson at home. 

“They can grab a pre-assembled project and do arts and crafts at home. As a mother myself, I’m really excited about this option,” Majano said.

While many of the traditions of the East Lansing Art Festival are returning in-person, much of the digital streaming content that first debuted in 2020 will also make a comeback. People that are still taking heavy precautions and avoiding public crowds altogether can still enjoy much of the weekend’s festivities. Artist demonstrations, live performances, poetry readings and much more will be posted to the festival’s official website, elartfest.com, and its Facebook page, facebook./elartfest. 

“We did try to bring back the standbys people expect from the festival, but COVID precautions in mind, we did change a few things,” Majano said. “We’ll have some streaming performances, one in the morning and one in the evening. We’ll also have artist demonstrations taped live and shared on our Facebook page.”

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