For those who seek the sound of the harmonica coupled with the tunes of soul, blues and rock, Francis Marion University is the place to be this Saturday.
Enthusiasm was high this week when committee members met to make final preparations for the 31st annual Art’s Alive Festival to be held on the FMU campus, April 5.
The festival offers a day of free activities from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Event-goers will find a wide array of live dance and musical entertainment, art exhibits and activities in a family-friendly environment. New this year, is a movie matinee of cartoon and comedy classics.
"We try to make it a stronger artistic show every year," said Libby Cooper, FMU vice president for public and community affairs. “Our vision is to promote increased access to the arts and to contribute to the development of an appreciation of the aesthetic aspects of community life in the Florence region.”
This year’s featured musical attractions are Jim Quick and Coastline band and The Parris Island Marine Band. These groups will perform on the main outdoor stage at FMU. The festival’s lineup of other talented musicians and singers performing throughout the day, include the choral ensemble Vocal Edition, The Woody’s band, FMU’s Cut Time choir, Fleur de Lis Strings, Florence Men’s Choral Society, The Plaids and Peggy Baroody and Friends.
The Greenwood Elementary School chorus will begin the musical lineup with a performance at 10:30 a.m.
Jack London’s musical “Call of the Wild” and Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night or What You Will,” performed by the National Players are the featured theatrical presentations for this year’s festival.
In addition, artists will be showing and selling their work at the festival. There will be watercolors, oils, acrylics, pottery, woodwork, hand-painted porcelain, stained glass, jewelry, fabric and more.
A number of dance groups will perform, including the South Carolina Dance Theatre, celebrating its 30th year as the region’s oldest ballet company consisting of about 40 dancers from age nine to teenagers.
They along with 10 other groups will perform in either the McNair Auditorium or the Outdoor Dance Stage. Other groups include the Performing Arts Academy, The Wanda Project, Coker Repertory Dance Company, Phat Pheet of Williams Middle School, Dancin’ on Main, Kelley’s Fine Arts, Showbiz Studio & Dance Company, School of Dance Arts and Dance for Joy Dance Studio.
Children’s events include ventriloquist, comedian Ron Johnson who will engage attendees with his humor, magic and songs.
In addition to Johnson’s ventriloquism, several other performers will present entertaining programs for youngsters and adults at the Art’s Alive Festival. Comedy juggler Jason Huneke and the Florence Little Theatre Schoolhouse Players are among those performers.
This year there will also be a youth art center where attendees can make rain shakers, animal masks, exotic creature pins and birdhouses. Robert F. Lyon will also give a lecture and woodturning demonstration.
There will be a sidewalk chalk art competition and a recycled reading book sale. Visitors to the festival may bring a picnic lunch, or purchase food from a variety of food vendors sure to suit all tastes.
"We encourage people to come early and to visit with the artists who are on hand and eager to discuss their work," said Cooper. "We have expanded the number of events this year since there is so much enthusiasm for the festival. So there will be much more to enjoy."
For more information, contact the FMU Office of Public and Community Affairs at 843-661-1225.