Arts & Entertainment, Economic Development, and Lakeshore

Muskegon summer art fair re-emerges as Lakeshore Art Festival

November 27, 2012
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Muskegon summer art fair re-emerges as Lakeshore Art Festival
The art festival has been a summer staple in Muskegon for more than 50 years. Courtesy Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce

The art fair that was once a part of the Muskegon Summer Celebration will be back in 2013 thanks to a partnership between the Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce and the Muskegon Community Foundation.

The two organizations are working to reorganize and reinvigorate the successful art and crafts fair, which has been renamed the Lakeshore Art Festival under the new arrangement. The festival will also receive a new logo and new branding as part of the change.

“We are excited to take over the ownership and management of this important summer event,” said Cindy Larsen, president of the Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce.

The arts festival has been part of Muskegon’s summer events for more than 50 years, with 19 of those years under the management of and coinciding with Summer Celebration. Following Summer Celebration’s disbandment in 2011, Lansing-owned Meridian Entertainment put on the 2012 arts festival, but the chamber and community foundation decided that for 2013 and beyond they would like the festival to be organized locally.

“It was a natural fit for the chamber,” said Cecilia Riley, communications director for the chamber. “There are chambers across the state and country that produce art fairs, and because it’s supporting local business and small business it really fit within our mission to produce the fair.”

The Lakeshore Art Festival will be held in downtown Muskegon with Hackley Park continuing to serve as the location for “Art in the Park,” which is the fine art and juried portion of the festival.

“I think that the biggest change we are trying to make is to change the layout,” Riley said. “For the last 20 years it’s followed the same path in downtown and we are actually trying to take it the opposite direction in downtown from what it has historically gone.

“We also want to really incorporate the downtown businesses into the art fair. So we are planning to throw a street party where they can offer art fair specials and have live music and that kind of thing. Then we are also looking at adding a children’s area to the art fair, which has never been done before.”

To help ensure the festival remains a success, the chamber has hired professional event coordinator and owner of Norton Shores-based CMF Marketing Carla Flanders to manage it. Chamber officials believe having a professional event manager will help attract the best artists and crafters.

Flanders has experience in event management, and is currently involved with Seaway Run Expo, Muskegon Retail Incubator and Zeeland Pumpkinfest. She also has experience coordinating large-scale events including the UICA ArtPrize opening, Tulip Time Festival, National Food Carving Competition, concerts and parades. She plans to work with former volunteers who helped develop the original festival.

“I think it’s important to note that we are working in partnership with the new festival group,” Riley said. “There’s a new organization, called Muskegon Festival Group, that’s taking over what used to be Summer Celebration and planning a new music festival at Heritage Landing during the same time that the art fair will be going on. So we are developing a partnership with them and working to co-market. We really want the events to bolster each other.”

Lakeshore Art Festival will take place on July 5 and 6.

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