Festival of the Arts takes over Mill Avenue - East Valley Tribune: Get Out

Festival of the Arts takes over Mill Avenue

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Posted: Wednesday, March 25, 2009 2:31 pm | Updated: 1:21 am, Sat Oct 8, 2011.

Sure, that expensive new work of art for your foyer is probably on hold these days, but that doesn't mean you can't browse.

Tempe Festival of the Arts, the twice-yearly street fair featuring hundreds of artist booths, is this weekend. Thanks to free admission and a sunny weather forecast, it could make a nice outing whether you're in the market for a new painting or not.

"This year, we decided to take out our main stage so we could increase the number of street performers. We wanted people to feel like music and entertainment was all around them," says Casaundra Brown, spokesperson for the Downtown Tempe Community. The on-the-ground lineup includes a juggler and acrobat with a leaping dog, palm and tarot card readers, henna artists and face painters, a caricature artist and lots of diverse musicians.

Another popular attraction, the Arizona Wine Festival, features a cordoned-off wine garden, where, for $10, you can sample flights from 10 Arizona wineries and take home a full-size commemorative wine glass. The area is adjacent to the festival's live jazz stage, where Margo Reed, Nuance Jazz Trio, and jazz combos from Arizona State University and Mesa Community College will perform throughout the weekend.

Other draws are an interactive, art-themed kids zone; a cottage arts-and-crafts market featuring original soup mixes, jams, seasonings, soaps and potpourris; and a food court with frybread, noodles, tri-tip beef, fish 'n' chips, roasted nuts and gourmet popcorn.

And - who knows - you might just buy something after all. Brown says the fair's artists have made a point to offer photographs, sculptures, jewelry, wood carvings and other works at a variety of price points.

"In the past, the spring festival was usually a little more high-end, but given the times we're in, the artists are purposely offering affordable items, from first-time-art-collector prices up through the higher-end amounts. You'll definitely be able to find those $5, $10, $20 items," she says.

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