From humble beginnings 28 years ago, when a few vendors lined a Grove City alley, to the two-day festivities of today, Arts in the Alley draws thousands to the streets surrounding the city’s historic Town Center.
Sponsored by the Grove City Chamber of Commerce, the annual event, Sept. 15 and 16, features not only the best local and area artisans have to offer, but also a parade, food, two stages of entertainment, and a unique opportunity for younger students to sing on television.
A Community Parade kick-offs Arts in the Alley Music and Arts Festival at 9:30 a.m. on Broadway on Sept. 15. Juried art shows throughout the area include entries presenting examples of photography, quilting, crafts, fine arts, and youth art. Awards are given in category for Best of Show and People’s Choice, along with a Mayor’s Award and the Helena McComb Award.
Photography is on display in the library, city hall is the host site for fine arts and crafts, youth art is presented at the safety building, and the quilt show takes place at St. John’s Lutheran Church on Columbus Street.
"This is the largest signature event in Grove City," said Bill Diehl, executive director of the Grove City Chamber of Commerce. "Between 30,000 and 40,000 visitors come to Arts in the Alley each year and it just keeps getting bigger.
"We have exhibitors coming from as far away as Florida and New York and all over the Midwest. This is a juried show. We want quality over quantity. We don’t have beads on a string. Everything has to be handmade and each vendor had to submit pictures or slides of their work for judging. We had about 175 entries and not all of them made it in the show."
The chamber is also serving as host of Kids Fun Street, where even the smallest festival goers can try their hand at creating a work of art. Arts and craft projects are available to children of all ages to make-and-take home free of charge. Diehl said thousands of dollars of supplies will keep kids busy at Fun Street.
Entertainment is provided all day on a main stage on Park Street west of Broadway and a second entertainment venue is located on Park street east of Broadway. Local service organizations are offering old time fair food and thousands of items on display will be up for sale.
"We have a new signature stage sponsored by Heartland Bank," continued Diehl. "Acts start at 11 a.m. on Saturday and go to 8 p.m. and each one usually plays for one to two hours. We have jazz, country, and rock musicians. The Grove City Band and show choirs from Grove City and Central Crossing are also performing, so we have something for everyone.
"A huge new feature this year is an American Idol type show for kids that will be televised. We’re really going big this year. All the music teachers in grades K-6 throughout the schools were asked for entries and 30 children will perform. Three judges will pick 10 finalists who will be televised on the Oxygen Network on Time Warner Cable."
Diehl said the winner will be picked by audience viewers later in the season and announced in October. The executive director said the competition is noteworthy because network executives are expected in town to watch the show and it is the first time the cable company has conducted a contest like this in conjunction with Oxygen.
The karaoke-style challenge features young vocalists from Grove City performing from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. on Sept. 16 on the Kids Street Fun Stage on Park Street. Singers from kindergarten through sixth grade will choose one of five family-friendly songs and perform them live. Following the challenge, an open microphone is available for vocalists of all ages until 5 p.m.
The festival is free and open on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and on Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.