Fort Worth's Art and Soul 4

The iconic MAIN ST. Arts Festival returns for its 32nd year.

On April 20th through the 23rd, Fort Worth’s historic downtown will once again fill with the sights and sounds of the MAIN ST. Arts Festival. Though every year has stood as an exemplary celebration of the art and soul of Fort Worth, this 32nd iteration promises to exceed itself in every possible way. As the largest art show in Texas, MAIN ST. Arts Festival has grown to become one of the state’s premier cultural events. The hundreds of artists, food vendors, musicians, and performers who come together for this celebration contribute to a lively mosaic of our city, and treat visitors to a true feast of the senses.

This year’s festival builds upon the success of the 2016 event, which overcame dour weather forecasts to become a ringing success.

“The art festival was very successful last year, even though the forecasters were predicting rain,” says Becky Renfro Borbolla, chairman of the Festivals and Events Committee for Downtown Fort Worth Inc., which produces MAIN ST. “We had a great crowd come out on Saturday night, and the rain skipped over us. The entertainment and artists were stellar, and even with the bad weather forecasts, our artists had a great year for sales.”

That a large, outdoor festival can succeed through adverse weather stands as a testament to its health and popularity among regular attendees. The 2016 MAIN ST. Arts Festival actually thrived, and garnered an improved ranking from an industry leading survey on art sales. The Art Fair SourceBook, which compiles information and rankings for art fairs and craft shows, honored MAIN ST. Arts Festival as a top four event among all fine art festivals in the country.

The 2016 festival also received the “Zenith” award from the International Festivals and Events Association, an honor which stands alongside its 2015 recognition as one of USA Today’s top 10 U.S. arts festivals. In addition to this praise, In Style described MAIN ST. as one of the “under-the-radar festivals you need to start planning for now.”

To plot your ideal festival experience, you’ll first need an understanding of all that it has to offer. Tens of thousands of visitors will descend across 27 blocks of downtown Fort Worth to browse the wares of 213 hand-picked artists. Four event stages will host hundreds of performers across four days, while vendors will offer delectable gourmet hamburgers, crawfish, bratwurst, turkey legs, craft beer, wine, and much, much more. Truly an event that caters to everyone, the festival offers family-friendly arts and crafts activities, and presents top-tier musical acts to keep the fun going after sundown.

“Our entertainment committee does a great job choosing the performers,” says Becky Renfro Borbolla. “We have a mix of country, blues, jazz, and rock-and-roll, and try to hit it so that everyone who visits can find something they want to see.”

This year’s performers include headliners such as esteemed guitarist Doyle Bramhall II, folk group Elephant Revival, singer-songwriter Rodney Crowell, “The Voice” finalist Austin Allsup, and Jamaican reggae band Chaka Demus & Pliers.

These stellar offerings aside, MAIN ST. Arts Festival remains first and foremost an arts festival, with a diverse mixture of international, national, and local talent on exhibit.

“While music has taken a higher priority role, the art component is still what drives us,” says Jay Downie, director of Downtown Fort Worth Inc. “The music complements the art scene, and provides a different layer to the artistic scope of the festival.”

The 213 artists featured for 2017 were chosen from among 1,343 applicants. Mediums include everything you could imagine to decorate your home or supplement a collection, and include jewelry, ceramics, prints, painting, sculpture, glass, woodworks, photography, and metalwork. To learn more about the featured artists and events schedule, visit www.mainstreetartsfest.org.

Of course, an event of this scope only becomes possible through the hard work of sponsors and volunteers. This year’s presenting sponsor, Blue Moon Brewing Company, is joined by official sponsors Sundance Square, Tarrant County College, Wells Fargo, and The University of Texas at Arlington. Indispensable support from the event comes from the hundreds of volunteers whose efforts benefit the economic health of our city. Aside from the sales the event provides for artists, it also injects around $20 million into the economy of downtown Fort Worth. As a way to support both artists and the city, you can’t do better than a visit to MAIN ST. Arts Festival.