It may seem like it's never going to happen given the long and humid days we've had, but summer is coming to a close.

The leaves will soon begin their color-changing routine and a chill will creep in, giving way to fall -- but not before one last summer hurrah. Grove City greets fall with open arms Sept. 21 and 22 during one of my favorite annual events, the Arts in the Alley Music and Arts Festival.

Hosted by the Grove City Area Chamber of Commerce and one of central Ohio's longest running music and arts festivals, this celebration of creativity is one of Grove City's most well-attended functions, drawing thousands of visitors and residents to the streets of historic Town Center.

In 1980, the festival's first committee chairperson, Helena McComb, made a bold prediction to the ThisWeek Grove City Record, projecting the festival would become an annual event, "making Grove City known for its (music and) arts festival." Now, with the 40th annual Arts in the Alley upon us, we can say her prediction rings true.

From its beginning, the festival's success has been possible in large part to a completely volunteer crew. According to records, the first committee volunteers included McComb, Diana Forrester, Sue Libbe, Dee and Jon Shrum and Gloria Trigg, as well as many other dedicated individuals.

Today's list of volunteers is longer than I have space to include, with members of multiple organizations donating their time and talents in areas such as security, hands-on activities, hospitality and food service. Notably, the Grove City Community Club has served its delicious chicken and noodles at every festival.

This year's event has grown to more than 120 juried artists and exhibitors and promises yet another spectacular display of fine art, photography, pottery, glass work, quilting, crafts and more. Artists vie for categorical prizes, including $2,000 purchase and $500 People's Choice awards in the Grove City Easel Award fine-art competition.

Musical entertainment is again a large part of the festival; however, this is the first to feature a judged vocal competition in addition to the many contests for visual and applied arts. The Voice of Grove City, inspired by televised elimination-style singing competitions, awards a $2,500 prize to the top act. Contestants will share their vocal talents during four elimination rounds, ultimately crowning the first winner and future star. For more information regarding the competition, visit voiceofgrovecity.com, or about Arts in the Alley, visit gcchamber.org

There's so much talent and creativity in Grove City and central Ohio. We are incredibly fortunate to have the festival and other opportunities to showcase that talent.

For example, the unmatched skill of our city staff, contractors and volunteers who specialize in restorative craftsmanship, is on display a couple of blocks east of the festival at the Grant-Sawyer Home, 4126 Haughn Road.

Join me in a celebration of their talents at 1:30 p.m. Sept. 21 as we dedicate the barn, unveiling the latest phase of restoration on this historic property. The care taken by our dedicated artisans is beyond compare and exhibits an attention to detail that will transport you to the 1800s. The home and barn are open to visitors until 5 p.m.

Strolling through a vast venue of creativity at Arts in the Alley and enjoying the beautifully restored buildings at the Grant-Sawyer Home is a perfect way to spend a late September weekend.

It's a treasured Grove City tradition -- capping off a fun summer and welcoming the future cascade of brilliantly colored leaves.

Mayor Richard L. "Ike" Stage is serving his fifth term as mayor.