Artists are no strangers to festivals. Many of them make their living going festival to festival to sell art. So when the Lower Town Neighborhood Association took over the Arts & Music Festival, it was widely viewed as handing the event off to the experts. Three years later, that expertise still shows through.
“I do 30 shows a year just like this,” said Michael Terra, event chairman. “So I have seen a lot. But what I love about our festival is the street-level participation. “
That “street-level participation” is what has made the Arts & Music Festival stand out to the nearly 15,000 people who attended last year. Art vendors and food from local eateries are mainstays, but the festival also features street entertainers, comedy groups and balcony theater. The result, Terra said, is a festival where no one is left out of the fun.
“We have almost 50 bands, food in our Taste of Paducah area, 40 feet of a children’s tent with its own stage,” Terra said. “Every year we put this on, it never takes less effort. We are always changing things to make the experience better.”
The latest additions to the festival enhance the entertainment on the street. West Kentucky Community & Technical College will sponsor a culinary theater where the students from the culinary program will cook for anyone who wants to see and then pass out samples. There’s also a “Laugh Tent” run by Paducah Improv that will make people laugh and train onlookers as well. All of these events, like the festival itself, are free.
“This is a break-even event,” Terra said. “We do it to enhance the quality of life. It’s really important to demonstrate gratitude for all of the non-monetary things that make our community.”
Call Corianne Egan, a Paducah Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8652 or follow @CoriEgan on Twitter.