Local art festival raises the bar in its sixth year

Local art show gives back to community in more ways than one.

Fall is my favorite season.

I love the changing of the leaves, the cool breeze that makes you tug your sweater a little tighter and all the festivities that come with the season that is fall.

One of those festivities is the “Fall Into Art” art and craft festival which kicked off its sixth year the weekend of Nov. 14 and 15, at the Parkade Center.

Farah Nieuwenhuizen, the event’s organizer, says the festival first came to the Columbia art scene because the art community felt they didn’t have anything like it.

In its early years, the festival could barely find 20 artists to participate in the event, but they now have to enforce a cut-off for the amount of artists they will accept.

Nieuwenhuizen says the selection process uses a four-person committee, all artists, who inspect three photos from each artists’ online submission. The judges base their decision on which works of arts will fit with the theme of the show.

Among the 53 artists showcasing their work this year, there are 12 different categories of art, ranging from ceramics to photography.

Most of the artists come from the Columbia area, but Nieuwenhuizen says 20 of them come from areas such as Kansas City, St. Louis and even Oklahoma.

Each artist is given the opportunity to participate in a silent auction that benefits The Food Bank for Central and Northeast Missouri.

Melynda Lotven, an artist and member of the event committee, says raising money for the food bank made the event feel like a “real community.”

The committee was unsure of how the event would turn out, but to their surprise, the event raised $1,500, moving the festival in a positive direction.

Nieuwenhuizen explains that you “really have to have a cause to get things started and get things going.”

In addition to participating in the silent auction, festival-goers can also visit the food bank’s booth where they will be serving complimentary cookies and cider free of charge.

Something new at the festival this year will be the Michael’s vendor booth as they offer door prizes and arts and crafts activities for children and adults.

Nieuwenhuizen says this event “gives the Columbia artists and the mid-Missouri artists an opportunity to exhibit and show their work.”

Even children will have the opportunity to showcase their talents as well. The festival is welcoming students from Lee Expressive Arts Elementary School this year in hopes to inspire art at all ages.

Both Lotven and Nieuwenhuizen agree that the festival is great for all artists alike as they not only get to present their work to the public, but as the holiday season rolls around, they also get to sell their work to festival goers as gifts for their loved ones.

“These are professional artists, this is a high-quality art show”, Lotven says.

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