Octagon Art Festival attracts hundreds of local artists to downtown Ames

Des Moines artist Danielle Kelso hosted a booth at the Octagon Art Festival on Sunday. 

Des Moines artist Danielle Kelso hosted a booth at the Octagon Art Festival on Sunday. 

Ella Hawkins

Hundreds of people gathered in downtown Ames on Sunday for the 50th Octagon Art Festival. 

Many of the artists expressed how excited they were to be back at this art show after last year’s cancellation due to COVID-19.

“This year we are doing eight art festivals; usually we do maybe 12 to 15,” said artist Chris Abigt. “Last year we had zero due to COVID… It’s been awesome; I just think people are thrilled to be out.”

In addition to Abigt’s booth of many oil paintings, there were over 100 booths featuring photography, woodworking, mixed media and other unique creations. Some artists chose to work on pieces during the festival so people passing by could watch as well. 

With a little bit of something for everyone, there were people of all ages in attendance Sunday. Lots of visitors made purchases at the festival in support of local artists. In between talking with the artists and eating at popular food trucks, visitors enjoyed live music and interpretive dance performances. 

The Octagon Art Festival allows a chance for artists to network with each other as well.

“It’s been a really good experience meeting new people, getting out of my zone of Des Moines and seeing different work,” said Danielle Kelso about her first time hosting a booth at the festival. Kelso’s booth was full of abstract paintings, pop art and bright colors. 

Luke Hubbard, a painter, also expressed that he enjoyed coming to the Octagon Art Festival because of the supportive community and familiar faces. This was Hubbard’s fifth year participating in the festival.

“I could spend five minutes to five days on a painting depending on the size, and I usually have eight or nine pieces going at the same time,” said Hubbard.

The first art festival hosted by the Octagon Center for the Arts was in 1970. The Octagon Center for the Arts has aimed to help support local artists since it was established in 1965. 

Since then, the center has grown tremendously and offers many opportunities for people in the community to get involved with art. 

To learn more about what is going on at the Octagon Center for the Arts, visit their website.