Welcome Back Westerville Music & Arts Festival!
By: Tyler Lloyd
July 9th and 10th will be an exciting time for Westerville community members and visitors alike. Why? The 48th annual Westerville Music & Arts Festival will be making its post-pandemic return after a two-year absence from an in-person festival.
Since 1974, the Westerville Music & Arts Festival has been an annual summer event presented by the Westerville Area Chamber. Starting with only 50 artists in Uptown Westerville, the event has continued to grow each year, attracting and featuring some of the best artists and craftspeople across the country and a diverse roster of local and regional musicians.
Over two million people have attended the festival over the years, and organizers anticipate that this year’s event will draw many long-time supporters eager to celebrate the Music & Arts Festival once again.
Stacey Rusterholz, the communications, and community outreach manager for the Westerville Area Chamber, is excited for the festival’s return. “This festival is unique to Westerville because we are in the heart of such an expansive community of music and arts enthusiasts. I’ve seen countless times the support Westerville residents have for one another, and I believe that it really makes us stand out as a city.”
Preparation for the Music & Arts Festival begins in February when the Westerville Area Chamber starts the planning process for the big day. Rusterholz points out that everyone involved devotes long hours and plenty of community pride and passion to make the event a success.
Rusterholz, who served as a volunteer at the festival before, understands the important role volunteers play in the festival. “Volunteers are invaluable to making our festival successful. They help plan and execute all the minute intricacies of this festival, and for that, I am grateful for a community of helpers.”
Janet Tressler-Davis, President and CEO of the Westerville Area Chamber, agrees that the event could not exist without volunteers who provide services that include venue preparation, trash collection, assisting the exhibitors, and serving as the hosts and hostesses of the festival. Notes Tressler-Davis, “It is impossible for one person to plan this event. And what’s great about that is there is so much opportunity for us, our members, and the volunteers to collaborate on and innovate around the festival to make it unique and fun for every person who enters.”
Echoing the praise and appreciation for the volunteers are former festival exhibitors, with one remembering how volunteers would stop by her booth frequently to offer assistance and make sure she and her fellow artists had proper shade and access to water, continually expressing concern for the exhibitors’ wellbeing.
The festival attracts an avid following of visitors and locals alike who look forward to the event every year. A popular activity among the most fervent festival fans is collecting a Music & Arts Festival T-shirt from each year. And don’t think such devotion goes unnoticed - in 2017, 90-year-old Virginia Price was honored for having attended every festival since its inception in 1974. Tressler-Davis describes the festival as a reunion given the number of familiar faces who attend each year and look forward to catching up with one another.
This year’s festival will once again be held at Westerville’s Heritage Park (60 N. Cleveland Avenue), a scenic wooded area adjacent to Alum Creek and home to the Everal Barn - an appropriate setting for the “city within a park!”
Showcasing over 130 fine arts and crafts exhibitors, 30+ musical artist performances, 20 food vendors, a silent auction in the Everal Barn, a youth art exhibit and competition, a community mural, and youth entertainment, the Music & Arts Festival strives to offer something for all tastes and interests. Arts exhibitors span such genres as photography, fiber, metal, wood, and glass. A diverse line-up of music runs the gamut from country to classic rock, folk, and jazz. Check out continuous performances at the Main Stage, Community Stage and Songwriter Tent throughout both days.
Saturday evening will find concerts by The Joint Rockers (at 5:15pm) and The Reaganomics (at 7:30pm) on the Main Stage. Beer will be sold from 5:15-9:30pm and two of Ohio’s best craft breweries will be manning the taps: Rhinegeist Brewery and Land Grant Brewing Company.
When asked why she puts in the extra work for this festival, Rusterholz says, “At the end of the day, this isn’t just an event. Holding a festival like this is a celebration for a community that is supportive, devoted, and passionate about music and arts.”
Promoting the event as family friendly, Rusterholz, emphasizes that the festival is designed for all ages to enjoy. Entertainment geared to the younger set will be on hand and the Everal Barn’s upper level will feature a youth art exhibit for ages 3-18 to showcase their talents.
The festival continuing year after year is a testament to Westerville. Says Tressler-Davis. “From every detail involved in coordinating this large two-day event, the business community and their volunteers, along with our community partners such as the Westerville Parks & Recreation Dept., Fire Dept., Police Dept. Water Division, Electric Division, and Westerville City Schools, they all have an essential role. Either in a volunteer capacity or in my current role with the Chamber, I have seen the festival evolve over 34 years, the one constant is the community. It is a tradition that many look forward to summer after summer, while others will attend for their first time experiencing the upbeat, energetic event.”
Out of town visitors to the Music & Arts Festival will find a warm welcome in Westerville. Within 20 miles of the John Glenn Columbus International Airport, Westerville is home to several hotels, numerous eclectic dining options and the charming and historic Uptown district, where shops, restaurants, coffee houses and ice cream parlors await.
Nature lovers will find parks throughout the city and a vast expanse of bike and walking trails. Transportation by festival trolley and local COTA bus offer easy access to and from the event.
Festival hours are 10 am - 7 pm on Saturday, July 9th, and 10 am - 4 pm Sunday, July 10th. Admission is $1 for anyone over age 10. Parking can be found at the Westerville Sports Complex (325 N. Cleveland Ave.), The Point at Otterbein (60 Collegeview Rd.), and the former Senior Center (310 W. Main St.). For accessible parking, the festival entrance at Main St. and Lindimore Way will have staff who can provide directions and assistance.
For more information, please visit https://www.westervillechamber.com/music-arts-festival or follow the Music & Arts Festival on Facebook.
Interested in the rewarding experience of volunteering? The festival has openings July 8-10. A prime opportunity to meet new people and give back to your community while enjoying plenty of festival fun is as easy as hitting the sign-up button:
Link to Volunteer sign-up: https://www.signupgenius.com/go/10c0d4cacaa22a3fc1-2022
Youth Art Exhibit sign up: Email Rachel at firstname.lastname@example.org