Highland News Leader

Highland again set to host Street Art Festival

Visitors to this year’s Street Art Festival will have a new voice this year, as Highland welcomes its 17th group of artists to the Highland town square.

The annual Street Art Festival in Highland brings in artists to create temporary works of art on the streets and sidewalks of town.

Art has always centered in Highland. Eight years ago, when an old tree on the west side of the square died and needed to be taken down, an artist was commissioned to transform it into a permanent work of art. When another tree died two years ago, the same artist returned to create a new woodcarver sculpture.

This year for the first time, the Highland Street Art Festival is taking ballots for a “People’s Choice Award.” Festival attendees can pick up ballots at the information tent and choose their favorite street art from the 35 artists competing along the square. One artist is traveling all the way from Florida to compete, according to organizer Nancie Zobrist.

Last year’s addition was a “novice artist” program, allowing artists 12 years and older to work with the experienced adult artists and learn how to do street art from layout to completed work.

“They learn new skills and can practice under the expert,” Zobrist said. “We are excited to be able to help these new artists develop their skills.”

Also new this year: The Highland Arts Council commissioned an original and temporary piece of fabric art up in the trees at the Highland town square for one week only. The Riverbend Yarn Bombers will install the artwork along Main Street on Friday, Sept. 20, and it will remain until Friday, Sept. 27.

The council is also continuing its “Unity Project,” adding willow rings and ribbons to create the word “arts” to one wall and musical notes to another. Participants will be invited to tie a ribbon onto the artwork on display, creating their own contribution.

Other activities include:

  • There is also a “budding artist” section for handpicked middle school students working in teams to create art measuring up to 50 square feet. Of the six teams, five are from Highland Middle School and the sixth is drawing for autism awareness;
  • The children’s area allows artists ages 5-15 to create their own work along a large strip of the street. There is also a kids’ craft area including free crafts for young children and a bounce house;
  • This is the third year of the “bags tournament,” which begins at 2 p.m. and costs $50 per team with a 70 percent payout. Registration can be found at the Highland Chamber of Commerce or at the event;
  • Live entertainment will feature the band The Funk Ward, playing from 4-7 p.m.;
  • Vendors will be selling a selection of handcrafted items from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.;
  • New this year is an adult craft class sponsored by Highland Arts & Crafts, which is holding a mosaics class on the square for a $20 advance fee or $25 on the site. Participants will break, cut and arrange glass and tiles on a 5x5-inch square project base. All materials and tools are provided, and the class will be offered 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.;
  • Street Art Festival will join with the Hops and Color Festival this year — a beer tasting fest with a wide selection of craft and domestic beers that begins Friday, Sept. 20, with live bands and barbecue. Advance tickets to Hops and Color are $20, and general admission is $25. Find out more at their Facebook event; and
  • WDLJ will broadcast live from the fest from noon to 4 p.m. Food and drink vendors will be operating all day.

Controversy, event details

This year’s festival was the center of some controversy in the last few months, after the Highland City Council narrowly voted against supporting the festival with tourism dollars. Some council members had raised concerns about the Highland Chamber of Commerce’s request for additional funding for permanent signage, and after the 3-2 vote to deny the request, Zobrist said she did not intend to submit a second, smaller request.

The Street Art Festival will run 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 21, at the Main Square in Highland (with Sunday, Sept. 22, as a rain date). Find out more at their Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/HighlandStreetArtFest/