Ames art festival sees 10,000 visitors

The visual, performing and culinary arts were celebrated by art lovers, Iowa State students and Ames residents at the 51st Annual Octagon Art Festival on Sunday.

The Octagon Center for the Arts hosted this event, exhibiting 85 visual artists, food vendors, kids’ activities and various musicians and performers on Main Street in Downtown Ames.

Rob Wallace, a professional woodworker and vice president of the board of directors at the Octagon Center for the Arts, estimated at least 10,000 visitors during the six hours the event was held.

“Part of what I enjoy doing with the woodturning demonstration is to show an aspect of woodworking that a lot of people don’t get to see,” Wallace said. “It’s just fun watching the kids get mesmerized by the piece of wood as it changes shape.”

Wallace described the art festival as a community reunion; he said it was one of the best ways to see the friends he has made at Iowa State, people he has coached and other artists.

Food vendors included at the event were the Hy-Chi food truck, Los Primos Grill, Smiles and Gyros and other local restaurants. Performers included ISU Orchesis I Dance, local musician Elizabeth Zimmerman and 13 other dance or musical groups split between two stages.

Kristy Evans, the founder of Kristy Evans Art, described her experience as a first-time festival participant as positive. She said it was nice to hear people praise her art but also unusual to watch people’s reactions. Evans said she was happy to finally pass along a piece of art that had been hanging in her dining room forever.

Caroline Freese, the founder of Caroline Freese Designs, said she enjoyed seeing people smile when they came across something they liked. She said the Ames community was a supportive place to find customers.

Dan Kemp, the founder of Danka Artistry, recommends trying the festival out next year for artists on the fence about participating.

“Meeting new people and hanging out and watching everybody interact with each other is some of my favorite stuff,” Kemp said. “It’s exciting, and it’s a one-day event, so you get in, people are excited to buy, and then it’s all over.”

To volunteer, interact or stay updated with the Octagon Center for the Arts, visit their website.