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This weekend is the official kickoff to summer in Grand Rapids: The Festival of the Arts. Enjoy art booths, delicious food, awesome local musicians, and adorable little ballerinas found on stages and lots throughout downtown. In its 43rd year, Festival, as its known to locals, is a must if you are vacationing in Grand Rapids this weekend.

Here are a few things you won't want to miss:

  • Food: It is impossible to tell you what vendors you should get food from because there is so much to choose from! Anything from Chinese to Greek to Bosnian food. From chili cheese fries to ribs to foot long hot dogs. And lots of ice cream, elephant ears and my personal favorite pavlova with fresh berries. Ok so I lied, I do have a favorite. Grab pavlova from booth 5.
  • Entertainment: Again, at Festival there is something for everyone. Many dance studios from around the area will perform as well as some local high school bands. Or enjoy some local indie artists, jazz groups, folk singers, and classical ensembles. If I had to pick someone you shouldn't miss, it would be Rick Hopkins performing at 4:45 Friday at the Clock Tower Stage. OK so he IS a friend of mine, but his acoustic, singer songwriter style is a nice place to sit down and enjoy that pavlova.
  • Kids: My kids LOVE Festival. It is sometimes hard to keep them from all running off in different directions, yelling over their shoulders, "Mom, look at this!! Throughout the festival they can make chalk drawings, take a ride in the giant tire swing and get their face painted at the Federal Building Lawn. Or check out the Grand Rapids Art Museum where kids can make and fly a kite, create fancy hats or design art with the museum volunteers.
  • And of course ART: Support local West Michigan Artists by taking a stroll through the art tent set up on Calder Plaza. There is always a mix of styles, prices and personalities represented with truly something for everyone. Plus it is a great chance to meet the artists behind the work and get insight into their process.

For all the details on the 43rd Festival of the Arts including printable schedules, maps and visitors guides, check out the official festival website.