Linda Lerum remembers the early days of Grove City's Arts in the Alley festival.

"I started participating the second year when we were set up in the parking lot behind the old Fifth Third Bank building on Broadway," the Grove City resident said.

"It was maybe 10 of us set up at card tables. It was just artists from Grove City, but there were some really talented artists," she said.

The 39th annual music and arts festival will be held Saturday, Sept. 15, and Sunday, Sept. 16, long after its move from the "alley" to the area along Broadway and Park Street in the Town Center.

The roster of artists also has grown more than 10 times to include more than 100 participants from across Ohio and several other states.

"It's been so exciting to see Arts in the Alley grow into what it is today," said Lerum, who creates bowls, silver pieces and jewelry through copper enameling.

"The whole purpose of Arts in the Alley is to demonstrate the fact that Grove City is very art conscious," said Marilyn Reiner, events manager for the Grove City Area Chamber of Commerce, which presents Arts in the Alley.

From the Little Theatre off Broadway and Grove City Council's Art Concern to the Grove City Arts Council and Arts in the Alley itself, "we have a number of ways to celebrate artistic and creative expression in our community," she said.

"Over four decades, Arts in the Alley has become so much more than just a local Grove City event," said Shawn Conrad, the chamber's executive director.

"It brings a lot of people into our city and helps promote Grove City and our wonderful Town Center to our visitors," she said.

"The police estimates for last year were that between 30,000 and 40,000 people visited the festival through the two days," she said. "They're not all coming from Grove City. This event attracts people from all over."

The festival will kick off at 9:30 a.m. Saturday with the Arts in the Alley community parade, co-sponsored by the Grove City Girls Club.

The parade begins at Southwest Boulevard and Broadway and travels south down Broadway, heads east on Columbus Street and then south on Wilbur before ending at Park Street Intermediate School, 3205 Park St.

Reiner will serve as this year's parade marshal.

"It's a great honor; it really is," Reiner said. "It's humbling,"

"Marilyn's humble, but she really deserves the honor of grand marshal," Conrad said. "She's been involved with Arts in the Alley for 15 years and has done so much to help make it grow and become even more successful."

The festival begins after the parade and will run until 8 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.

The artists displaying and selling their work at the festival were selected through a juried process, Conrad said.

Fine arts, photography, Grove City Easel Award and craft shows will be held at City Hall, 4035 Broadway. A youth art show will take place in mayor's court at the safety building on Park Street and a display of quilts will be offered at the Kingston Center, 3226 Kingston Ave.

The fine arts and photography shows will offer awards in both professional and amateur categories. People's choice awards will also be presented in each show.

Works that reflect Grove City's past, present or future are eligible to be entered for the Easel Award. The city purchases the winning entry for $2,000 and displays the artwork in City Hall as part of the city's permanent art collection.

Judges in each show choose one piece with a floral theme for the Helena McComb Award competition. McComb was one of the festival's founders, and the McComb family provides $500 for the winning entry.

Entertainment will be presented both days on the Heartland Entertainment Stage on West Park Street.

Saturday's lineup includes: Spark of Class, the Jackson Middle School show choir, 12:30 p.m.; A Touch of Class, the Grove City High School show choir, 1:30 p.m.; Carter and Cash, 2:30 p.m.; InnerVision, 4:30 p.m. and Danny & The Linders, 6:30 p.m.

The Grove City High School Marching Band will perform at 11 a.m. Saturday and the Central Crossing High School band at 11:30 a.m. on Park Street east of the old library site. Sunday's entertainment includes Linda Dachtyl B3 Trio, 11 a.m.; Blake Soles, 1:30 p.m.; and Excelsior, Central Crossing High School's show choir, 4 p.m.

Craft and other activities for children will be offered at Kids' Fun Street and the festival will again offer a community mural tent, in which adults will be invited to add their own contributions, and a demonstration tent where artists and craft makers will give presentations about their work.

All food concessions are provided by local nonprofit organizations and churches. Booths will be on East Park Street and scattered on Broadway and West Park Street.

"That's one of the things that sets us apart," Conrad said. "Instead of bringing in a bunch of food trucks, some of our local groups are able to raise funds for themselves by providing the food. It's a way we're trying to give back to the community."

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