Columbus Arts Festival: What to expect this year

Chris DeVille, Columbus Alive

Columbus Arts Festival is coming back to the Downtown riverfront this year, but it's not exactly the same old digs. Have you seen that renovated stretch along the Scioto?

"It's like moving away from home and having somebody rebuild your house while you're away," said Scott Huntley, who took over as festival director in February.

Downtown's extreme makeover has the city looking mighty fine. Construction on the Scioto Mile, Bicentennial Park, and the Main and Rich Street bridges wrapped up just in time for the 51-year-old festival to return to its signature site four years after vacating the banks of the Scioto. That makes Arts Fest the first chance to experience the revamped Downtown Columbus in full force.

Of course, there's much more to see than some stunning architecture and landscaping. Even before Huntley took the reins, a team of about 60 employees and volunteers was busy assembling a lineup that aims to represent art in all its many forms.

This year's attractions include the usual influx of hand-picked nationwide talent as well as a tent dedicated to local artists, many of whom will be demonstrating their creative process on site.

"My favorite festival experiences have been watching artists create things," Huntley said. "To be able to buy something that you saw them create is unreal."

The festival also includes food from Dine Originals restaurants, hands-on art activities for kids, theater, dance, local music and even poetry.

"We have a whole stage for the spoken word, which is an amazing thing to have in what could have been easily let to become an art fair," Huntley said.

Huntley emphasized the new circular layout of the festival, which allows visitors to explore the attractions from start to finish and end up where they started. Of course, with this much to take in, you'll probably want to take a few laps.

Scioto Mile & COSI

June 1-3

Scioto Riverfront, Downtown