If you’re an art enthusiast, looking for a gift, want to support local vendors or simply enjoy strolling in downtown Mesa, the Downtown Mesa Festival of the Arts will capture and hold your attention. Those attending the free festival can view and purchase items made by a wide array of artists gathered, in addition to enjoying live music and food from local vendors.
Downtown Mesa Festival of the Arts, formerly Mesa Arts and Crafts Festival (MACFest), is opening Oct. 7 and will run every first and third Saturday until April 2018. The festival will be located along Main Street and Macdonald Street in downtown Mesa.
Five years ago, Deputy Director Karen Svoboda and Director Mark Svoboda stepped in to help elevate the Downtown Mesa Festival of the Arts, since then, they have averaged between 60 and 70 vendors attending the festival each year ranging from mixed media, painting, sculptures, jewelry, ceramics, culinary arts and more.
“We are the largest, most consecutively running, nonprofit tourism-driven festival in Mesa,” Karen said.
The Mesa residents said they changed the name from Mesa Arts and Crafts Festival (MACFest) to Downtown Mesa Festival of the Arts because MACFest hasn’t been a part of the Mesa Arts Center for nine years and the name adjustment helped eliminate confusion between the two.
“With the name change, going from Mesa Arts and Crafts Festival to Downtown Mesa Festival of the Arts, we’re now a destination point because it says where we’re at,” Mark said. “And it’s a festival of the arts now, instead of an arts and crafts festival, so we can include a lot more…we can be a little bit more inclusive with other forms of art such as performance-based art.”
This year’s festival has been in the planning processes since April this year, Mark said. And since Downtown Mesa Festival of the Arts is all volunteer run, the Svobodas manage their 11 volunteers ranging in age from 16 to 90 years old, to work efficiently to put together a successful festival each year.
“Planning usually starts right after the last festival in April and runs entirely through the summer because there’s everything that has to get ready,” Mark said. This includes printing, graphics, banners, signage, sponsorship, permits, site plan, traffic control, and emergency management.
“One of our mission statements is to increase the economic growth of downtown in Mesa, so we truly try to stay with all local businesses,” Karen said, citing their printing is done by Americopy in Mesa, and traffic control is being handled this year by Southwest Barricades. “All of the local businesses in the downtown square mile, we promote at our info booth,” Mark said, which they set up on Main Street to promote the festival.
Sponsorships of local businesses range from $25 to $500 to donate, and the business get their logo on promotional materials for Downtown Mesa Festival of the Arts.
This year, all the vendors will be on the street from Main Street to Pepper and wrapping the corner, and sidewalk spaces will be utilized for nonprofits or local downtown merchants.
Karen said they supply spaces for the first season free of charge for anyone who is a high school or college student that haven’t set up before.
“Our only rule for the whole festival is the items being sold have to be made by the vendor that are selling them,” she said.
Attendees can browse items from artists including photography, fabrics, jewelry, books, candles, beauty products, home decor, wood and glass creations and more.
Dates and times for Downtown Mesa Festival of the Arts:
- Oct. 7 and 21, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
- Nov. 4 and 18, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
- Dec. 2 and 16, 2-8 p.m.
- Jan. 6 and 20, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
- Feb. 3 and 17, 10 a.m.- 4 p.m.
- March 3 and 17, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
- April 7 and 21, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
There will also be a Farmer’s Market, day shows from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., and night shows from 3 to 8 p.m.
In addition, the festival will be open on Nov. 11 from 2 to 8 p.m. in conjunction with The Mesa Music Festival.
To learn more about the Downtown Mesa Festival of the Arts, visit: Dtmesafest.com.
– Mesa resident Alyssa Tufts is a freelance writer for MyNewsMesa.com.