In its 44th year, organizers of the Westerville Music and Arts Festival aren't getting complacent when it comes to promoting what the event has to offer.

The festival has been growing and expanding for several years, even introducing an Uptown component last year, adding food options and increasing its list of performers.

But as the Westerville Area Chamber of Commerce's annual summer event approaches its goal of 15,000 visitors, coordinator Matt Lofy is hoping to bring it back to the forefront.

"We were kind of the only show in town," Lofy said. "Now, Westerville has grown and blossomed and become more vibrant, and central Ohio has a lot of other offerings."

Facing that competition, Lofy said organizers want to continue to grow the festival and show that their event rivals others in central Ohio.

He said this year will feature the "most diverse food and the most music" the festival has ever had, bringing together about 135 artists for one of the larger art collections in central Ohio.

A new "songwriter's tent" with unplugged and acoustic acts will attract a variety of new musicians to the festival, and Lofy said the idea is to have the music catch up with the art that the festival is known for.

"We always bring the arts, but this year we wanted to be sure we brought the music as well," he said.

Meanwhile, organizers believe a better selection of food can keep visitors around longer.

"We've found, especially through our surveys, that a lot of people have said 'Why don't you bring food trucks?' for the last several years," Lofy said.

To respond to that demand, the classic concessions of the festival will be joined by a variety of food trucks this year, including the popular Mikey's Late Night Slice and the Cheesy Truck. With those popular businesses around, Lofy hopes to reach different groups of central Ohioans.

"We're getting a greater reach, so I think that's going to help us catch on," he said. "We're bringing people to Westerville who aren't part of our community, and then they come and see how great Uptown is and how great our businesses are and overall how great the community is."

Last year's event drew around 13,000 guests, and Lofy is shooting for 15,000 this year.

Hitting that mark would mean they're approaching the festival's glory days, when 18,000 in attendance was not an unreasonable number.

"We're trying to get it back to where it used to be," he said.

Lofy knows there are many other options in central Ohio and knows the festival will have to work hard to compete. But he said he believes the festival team can provide what visitors want.

"Of course we're the best one," he said with a laugh.

The Westerville Music and Arts Festival runs from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. July 8 and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. July 9 at Heritage Park, 60 N. Cleveland Ave. Tickets are $1, free for those age 16 and younger.

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