Arts preview: Riverfront Arts Festival should appeal to noobs and connoisseurs

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From the September 26, 2013 edition

One of the year's last outside festivals takes to Genoa Park this weekend to showcase more than 100 regional artists of all persuasions, with live music and the standard yet mouth-watering festival fare.

While “arts” and “festival” in our city usually are combined to refer to the massive Columbus Arts Festival, which takes place earlier, in the sweatier part of summer, RFAF should not be overlooked. This festival offers a more personal relationship with the art and its creators.

The RFAF, as compared to its heftier cousin, is “manageable, it's kind of a boutique,” said Dispatch Events general manager Stephen Zonars. “This one is a little more boutique-y. It makes it a little more special.”

As further encouragement, festival-goers have a chance to win a portion of $5,000 in “ArtBuck$.” That is, money that can only be used to purchase art at the festival. Maybe the chances aren't high, but any opportunity to get free money to spend on acquainting your home with finer pieces seems worth looking into.

The artists don't include every plain-Jane that filled out an application either. The RFAF is a juried event. According to Zonars, every artist was selected by arts festival experts, including folks from the Greater Columbus Arts Council.

“Artists apply to participate, pay an application fee, then we have a jury of folks who have worked on arts festivals in the past and we also get some help from GCAC,” Zonars said. “We evaluate their submissions and then we accept artists with unique art that will appeal to visitors.”

WaterFire is also making its last appearance on the Scioto (before going on hiatus due to riverfront construction) on Friday and Saturday.

Unlike other festivals, the RFAF allows visitors to imbibe on the cheap. Friday features $2 wine and beer for a “happy hour” from 5-7 p.m. Additionally, all the alcohol-providers will have televisions, airing the weekend's major football games (also known as: non-art-loving companion drop off.)

Arts festivals oft come off as too monstrous, if not just expensive. The RFAF, on the other hand, offers much to connoisseurs of course, but also offers noobs a chance to catch the art bug as well. Bringing home treasure never seemed so accessible.