Grove City's Arts in the Alley has new dates, format

ALAN FROMAN
afroman@thisweeknews.com
Shawn Conrad, executive director of the Grove City Chamber of Commerce, is planning the city's Arts in the Alley event, which will be held virtually this year beginning Nov. 14. The virtual festival will run at least two weeks this year, as opposed to two days on the third weekend of September.

Grove City's Arts in the Alley festival traditionally serves as an end-of-the-summer event.

In 2020, the event will be held virtually and can be considered a kickoff to the holiday season, especially for those looking to give gifts.

The virtual festival will be held for at least two weeks beginning Nov. 14.

"It will be expanded in length. Instead of only two days, we'll be holding it for two weeks and perhaps beyond," said Shawn Conrad, executive director of the Grove City Chamber of Commerce, which presents the annual festival.

A website is being developed through which visitors could access almost all of the traditional Arts in the Alley components "at their convenience and without having to find a parking space," said Marilyn Reiner, the chamber's events manager.

"The virtual festival will have everything the regular in-person festival has, except our food vendors," Conrad said.

The festival traditionally has taken place on the third weekend of September along Broadway and Park Street in Grove City's Town Center.

With the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, "we waited as long as we could" before deciding the traditional festival could not be held as normal, Conrad said.

Between 25,000 and 30,000 people attend the festival each year, Conrad said, and more than 100 artists participate.

That number could increase under the virtual format, she said.

Artists and vendors will be able to apply to participate right up to the Nov. 14 start of the virtual event, Conrad said.

"Arts in the Alley will be able to have a more far-ranging reach this year," Reiner said. "We may be able to attract artists and vendors from not only Ohio, but across the country and around the world."

The festival will still have five juried shows -- craft, fine art, quilting, photography and a young-artists show. Those attending the festival virtually also will be able to vote on the People's Choice Award, Conrad said.

The artists' works will be displayed on the website, which will have links to the artists' own sites so visitors can find more information and purchase items, Reiner said.

Live entertainment will be offered online, Conrad said.

Times and performers are being finalized, but the goal is to include the marching bands and show choirs from Grove City schools, she said.

Despite being a virtual event, Arts in the Alley again will begin with the Community Parade, which is co-sponsored by the Grove City Girls Club.

"Instead of one large parade following one specific route, we will be dividing the units -- the marching bands, local service organizations, first responders and so on -- into about six 'pocket parades,' each of which will feature 10 to 12 units each," Conrad said.

The pocket parades will fan out to city neighborhoods and march beginning at 9:30 a.m. Nov. 14, Conrad said. Each pocket parade will visit several neighborhoods.

"We're really excited about the pocket-parade concept," she said. "I think a lot of people are going to love having a mini-parade go down their street."

Residents also are invited to participate in a Chalk Art Challenge, which will begin Sept. 26.

"We will be giving out some themes and people, individually or as groups, can create a chalk drawing on the sidewalk in their neighborhood to portray one of those themes," Conrad said. "It should be a lot of fun to see what ideas people come up with."

Participants may work on their chalk drawings for the seven weeks leading up to Nov. 14, she said.

Chalk Art Challenge awards will be presented during the festival's virtual awards ceremony, Conrad said.

Local service organizations typically operate food booths at Arts in the Alley as a fundraiser.

"Since we can't have food vendors this year, we will put information about and a link to the different organizations and encourage people to support them with donations in the program guide we'll post on the Arts in the Alley website," Reiner said.

Circumstances have forced the chamber to switch to a virtual format, but that doesn't mean it's a pale imitation, Conrad said.

"We don't consider this to be 'the next best thing to Arts in the Alley,' " she said. "It is Arts in the Alley."

"Our artists are going to be able to have their work up and available for viewing for a lot longer than two days," Reiner said. "And there is a chance for a lot more people to view their work than just those who come to the Town Center for the street-side event."

afroman@thisweeknews.com

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