by Calista Sprague
very kid loves a festival. Balloons, games, inflatables, yummy treats—what’s not to love?
On April 26, the business district on Broadway will come alive with Broadway SpringFest, the new anchor event for the Uptown Broadway Concert Series.
For many years, Columbus’ music festival, Riverfest, drew families from around the Valley to downtown, but since 2005, the stages have been quiet. Springfest will be similar to Riverfest, but Peter Bowden, president of the Columbus Convention & Visitors Bureau, and the other organizers are quick to point out that SpringFest offers something new, stressing their goal to create a free, family-friendly, regional music festival.
“SpringFest will be a great event,” Bowden said, “but it’s not intended to be Riverfest. It will focus on the best things that Riverfest brought to the spring festival, while introducing new things to help build a following and enhance the type of family fun and atmosphere that Riverfest brought to the community.”
CCVB and Uptown Columbus Inc., have called on several organizations to help ensure SpringFest’s success, including Music in Columbus, the Business Improvement District, Columbus State University and the Columbus Consolidated Government.
Historic Columbus Foundation, former coordinators of Riverfest, have contributed wisdom gained from years of past experience. “Historic Columbus has been an advisor and wealth of information at this point,” Bowden said gratefully.
Elizabeth Barker says that HCF is excited about the new event. “We certainly want to help in anyway we can. It’s been an open-book, open-warehouse policy for Broadway SpringFest. We’re happy to be a part of it.”
Like Riverfest, the heart of SpringFest will beat to the rhythms of live music. However, the festival will concentrate on local, state and regional acts. “We won’t be bringing in any national headliners,” said Bowden. “The goal is to promote local musicians.”
Brad Strickland of The Loft Live promises a varied slate of performers. “Jazz, blues, rock, folk, hip-hop, roots music—just to name a few. There will be something for all walks of life.”
Just like the musicians, the festival’s vendors will hail from nearby as well. “That’s the theme, Georgia Made, Georgia Grown,” said Richard Bishop, president of Uptown Columbus.
“It’s just a spotlight for what we have here in Columbus and Georgia, whether it be homemade crafts or homegrown vegetables or our talent and all of our vendors.”
“SpringFest will be one of the first festivals to incorporate the Georgia Made, Georgia Grown concept,” Bowden further explained.
“It gives it a niche,” said Bishop, “and that’s what we are looking for — a niche to make this event have some staying power.”
To enhance the fun for ‘fest-goers, Bowden says, “every vendor must have an interactive component.” Activities for young and old will keep the whole family entertained as they wind their way through the many booths.
The Children’s Area will offer something for children of every age. Port Columbus plans to set up a 20-foot model of an ironclad ship with costumed, living-history performers. Your little monkeys can jump in the Monkey Joe’s jumpy house and meet members of the Columbus Lions football and dance teams.
Animal lovers may choose to visit with an animal guest from the Wild Animal Safari and can even adopt a new pet from the Humane Society’s adoption trailer.
Westville will bring a little piece of the 1850s to downtown Columbus and Oxbow Meadows has planned hands-on, environmental fun along with a variety of other local cultural and service organizations.
Bishop and the others look forward to drawing in visitors not only from the local communities, but from the region as well. “A city our size needs an annual festival because it brings people to our downtown, which is the heart and soul of this city,” he said. “As part of that, we need to help our sister merchants down here by bringing more visitors down to this area, and we can do that.”
In addition to the many SpringFest vendors displaying their wares and tempting fare, the shops and restaurants along Broadway and throughout Uptown will remain open, allowing fest-goers to shop and dine throughout the day.
So start up the minivan, throw the kids and strollers in the car, and head to Uptown for a day of free family fun at Broadway SpringFest.
For the latest information on SpringFest, visit www.BroadwaySpringFest.com.
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