The popular Westerville Music & Arts Festival, coordinated by the Westerville Area Chamber of Commerce, is branching out this year by adding a night in Uptown to its schedule.

The popular Westerville Music & Arts Festival, coordinated by the Westerville Area Chamber of Commerce, is branching out this year by adding a night in Uptown to its schedule.

The festival has traditionally been a two-day affair, but this year it will host an Uptown-centric version of the event from 5 to 9 p.m. Friday, July 8.

Music & Arts Festival Coordinator Malcolm Kates said organizers have been looking into how to bring Uptown into the mix for some time, but a shuttle system from the festival site at Heritage Park, 60 N. Cleveland Ave., didn't work as planned.

"Ultimately, the two areas were kind of competing with each other," he said. "With the festival grounds being open, it tended to get most of the business."

With that in mind, Kates said giving Uptown its own night makes sense.

"We wanted to find a way to where Uptown could really benefit from the traffic that the festival brings and make it exclusively held there, while still making it feasible for us, because it would be a big leap to hold it exclusively at Uptown," he said. "So we decided to experiment with this Friday evening piece."

Debbie Bennati, a former Westerville Uptown Merchants Association president who helped coordinate the event, said it's a great use of Uptown's existing infrastructure for monthly 4th Friday celebrations and other events.

"I think it's fantastic that they want to include us and that the artists that come to participate will have a reason to come Uptown and find out what we're all about," she said. "I think a lot of times they don't know where to go except for their hotels, so they miss it."

The festival will once again be as affordable as possible with $1 tickets for anyone.

But Kates said the chamber has hopes of making the event even cheaper in the future, thanks to escalating funds provided by sponsors.

"Ultimately, what I would love to see is this event get to a place where, through our sponsorships, we would be able to get rid of the dollar altogether," he said.

In its 43rd year, the 2016 Westerville Music & Arts Festival, with Heartland Bank as the presenting sponsor, will be held from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. July 9 and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. July 10 at Heritage Park.

For more information and a full schedule of events, visit westervillefestival.com.