Conway Celebrates the Arts

Kerry Kraus

Conway has joined a growing list of Arkansas communities proud of their arts reputation. Out of this cultural explosion has come the annual ArtsFest, which starts today and runs through Oct. 10.

Activities for every member of the family will take place with nearly all art genres represented: music, dance, visual arts, performing arts, photography, film and exhibitions. Scheduled activities scheduled at 27 venues are not only downtown but on the University of Central Arkansas and the Hendrix College campuses as well.

This artistic happening is a family friendly event for all ages. On Friday, Oct. 9 from 4:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. there will be kid’s scavenger hunt entitled “The Art and Music Amazing Race.” Ten locations along Front Street will have clues, with the first one handed out at the Eiffel Tower in Simon Park. Bailey Library on the Hendrix campus is prize headquarters for the finishers. The Eiffel Tower is a 21-foot sculpture replica of the Paris landmark constructed of re-bar by Finton Shaw, a local artist. It will remain in the park through the month of October.

Another “large” special guest is the 31-foot inflatable Pittsburgh’s Painted Pachyderm, another Front Street attraction. The whimsical sculpture is on loan from the City of Pittsburgh and serves as the festival mascot. It will be unveiled at UCA at 7 p.m. on Oct. 7 and remain there until being moved to Simon Park on Saturday.

The Conway Film Festival will be in the District Court Building at 810 Parkway Street and features a variety of shorts and documentaries. The Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre performs shorts from their repertoire, also in Simon Park. Art departments from UCA, Hendrix and Conway schools will have displays throughout the four-day event. Entertainment will be provided by Marco Granados and Un Mundo the UCA Wind Ensemble and Symphonic Band Concert, Peterson’s Original Ragtime Band, the O’Donovan School of Irish Dance, Hendrix College Chamber Orchestra and Wind Ensemble concert, the Natural State Brass Band and the Central Arkansas Children’s Choirs and Music ‘N’ Motion.

Non-art themed activities on the docket include a bicycle tour of historic homes (bring your own bike), the Show and Shine classic car display and a chili cook-off. Visitors can choose from two event-ending activities at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday evening. The Conway Symphony and 150 chorus members from UCA and Hendrix gather in Reynolds Performance Hall on the UCA campus for ArtsFest Rocks Reynolds! The Hendrix Dance Ensemble offers a finale of “Fragments from Sappho,” a collage of poetry, movement and music. Reves Recital Hall is where it takes place.

A complete list of activities is available on or can be obtained by contacting the Conway Downtown Partnership at 501-548-9950.

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