An art festival for the first time in downtown Kokomo | News

Kokomo city center will be transformed into all art on Friday and Saturday during the city’s first-ever Artsapalooza Festival and Arts Experience.

The festival will feature an artists’ market, hands-on activities, an outdoor painting competition, live music, a film competition and artist demonstrations. The event is free and open to the public.

Caele Pemberton, director of marketing and communications at the Greater Kokomo Economic Development Alliance, said a committee was formed earlier this year to plan the festival. Committee members included local artists, Indiana Kokomo University, and the Kokomo Art Association.

She said the city has been pushing for the festival to take place this year as other arts festivals in the state have had to cancel due to COVID.

“We wanted people to come and continue to enjoy an art festival if they couldn’t have one where they could normally go,” Pemberton said.

The event kicks off on the first Friday, when professional artist JC Barnett leads young people in an interactive activity near Artist Alley. From 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., the Peaceful Kings and Kyle Baer will perform live at the Rain Garden Plaza. People are encouraged to bring lawn chairs to enjoy the free show.

At 7:00 p.m., meet at Sun King Kokomo’s Depot Room for the screening and awards ceremony of the short films submitted for the Kokomo 48-Hour Film Contest. The brewery will also host an artist and the Kokomo Humane Society.

Also on the first Friday, the public is invited to discover at least 14 new works of art on display in Artist Alley. Artists will present their work and be available for questions from 5:30 p.m., followed by refreshments served at the Art Gallery.

Then, on Saturday, Main Street will turn into an artists’ market from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. with more than 30 artists. Art will include handmade hats, woodcarvings, jewelry, canvas art, cast acrylic creations and more.

Pemberton said most of the artists are from the region or state, but some vendors come from as far away as Oklahoma to share their work.

“There are just a lot of different genres of art, so I think there will be something for everyone,” she said.

The day will also include an outdoor painting competition, where artists will paint downtown landscapes for a chance to win a cash prize. These paintings will be on display throughout September at the IUK Downtown Art Gallery.

Later in the day, visitors are encouraged to head to the Riverwalk Concert hosted by The Coterie. The free concert will feature Gingerbeard Man and Deray.

Pemberton said the first-time arts festival was kind of a highlight of the burgeoning arts scene in Kokomo.

In recent years, the city has added a sculpture walk along the downtown trails. Dozens of murals and other works of art are dotted around the sides of buildings throughout the city. Jules Muck, an internationally renowned street artist, even made several special trips to Kokomo to paint murals.

“I think we have a lot of organic art on display at Kokomo,” Pemberton said. “We are truly becoming a community that appreciates the arts and prepares them for visitors to enjoy. “

Now, this artistic energy will be on full display during Artsapalooza, which is set to become an annual downtown event. Pemberton said next year’s festival will likely be even bigger.

“We want to keep that momentum going and make it bigger and better,” she said.

For more information about the festival, including a calendar of events, visit

Pemberton said Artsapalooza is made possible through financial support from Financial Builders, who have incorporated it into their strategic plan to support arts initiatives in the community.

“They see the value of community development and economic development,” she said. “I think it’s so great and it’s great that we have them as a sponsor for this event. It looks like a perfect fit.

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Reggie S. Williams