East Falls Riverwalk
Saturday, August 18
Since the Garford Arts Fest (GAF hereafter) was announced and the Elyria Arts Council jumped on board as a sponsor, I've been asked,”What exactly is the GAF?” The posters promise music, art, food, and crafts. The website is more fist-pumping, “we are the future, we are the working class”. Rumors abound. Everybody still asks me, “Just what is this GAF?”
They sense something, something large moving, something waiting to crash through a barricade or overturn the norm. Perhaps they sense, dare I say it, a revolution? A movement.
They are quite correct. This is a movement that has long been building steam. It is a coup, a revolution in the streets. For the entire family.
Yes, you read that correctly.
When Steve Riggle, Andrea Repko, and Eddy Marflak of Blank Slate first proposed this event, some of us were a bit skeptical. Their idea was presented with an almost anarchistic fervor and passion. It was new. It was nuts and completely outside the box for Elyria. It wasn't just Art taken from the Gallery and pushed into the street. These crazy 'kids' wanted to turn downtown into a living, breathing Gallery. Outrageous. We were in!
Why drag beloved Elyria industrialist and inventor Arthur Garford into this? Now we're digging deeper into the spirit of this GAF revolt. Garford revolutionized an industry. He went outside boxes all his life. It is part of Garford's legacy to remind us that revolution can also be an agent of creation, not just tearing things down. Point taken.
What are we are revolting against?
When somebody says “Downtown Elyria”, quick, what is your gut reaction? Be honest. If you are downtown frequently, you likely reacted with a sense of newborn, if cautious optimism. You see the progress taking place, the signs of returning life. In general though, the perception persists of a place that you may “not want to go to because....” .
I've spent much time downtown over the past few years, helping build the Arts Council and working on the Murals that now embrace the new Pioneer Plaza. I've always revolted against that continued perception, both as a citizen and an artist.
When the Blank Slate contingent marched in, torches blazing, and pitched this mad art party in the streets of downtown, we were all momentarily blinded by the flames. Then it hit us. These torches weren't lit to burn anything down. Far from it. They were to light the way to a party, a celebration, a revolution against this ongoing perception.
You could call the GAF a big, beautiful community coup. You have only to look at the organizational and individual sponsors supporting the GAF, including the Mayor and the City of Elyria, to know what a chord has been struck.
These are challenging times. Communities are being tested. Here is where the real revolution, the real message of the GAF emerges.
Never underestimate the power of Community. Never underestimate the power of Art. Here is where we realize that a Community is a work of Art and that every citizen who comes to celebrate and party together is placing a brushstroke on a canvas. Our families, jobs, and friends are on this canvas, which we call Elyria. You want somebody painting that picture for you, or do you want to add your own gorgeous flourish? Sure you do.
The GAF is this Saturday on Kerstetter Way from 5 to 11 pm. Bring everyone and a sense of fun and adventure. The more you explore, the more you will be startled, delighted, and amazed. Make noise, meet people. Lets take back our downtown and rekindle our sense of community
OK, I didn't completely answer the question. How could I? You are part of the answer. You'll find out Saturday. Expect the unexpected. Come down.
Let's make some Art.
- Clint Rohrbach
18 Musical Acts
6 Food Trucks
You may bring into the park: blankets and beach towels, tarps, lawn chairs, personal-size umbrellas, cameras, cell phones, binoculars, sealed water bottles, baby strollers, wagons, food, flashlight, bug repellent, coolers. All items brought into the park are subject to inspection.
The following items are strictly prohibited: fireworks or sparklers, firearms and weapons of any kind, throwing or batting toys, laser pointers, alcohol, illegal drugs, glass bottles, tents, large golf umbrellas or flags, animals (except service dogs).
Festival Etiquette: Please, be thoughtful when setting up lawn chairs that you try not to block others’ views, try not to smoke in close proximity to others – especially children, be thoughtful while navigating through crowds to ensure the safety of those who may be unsteady on their feet or those transporting children in strollers or wagons. Hate speech or gang affiliated attire are strictly forbidden.
Downtown offers ample parking within walking distance of the festival grounds. Handicap parking is located in the parking lot of Spread the Word Ministries, at 36 Kerstetter Way. A valid Handicap Parking Identification Tag will be required to gain access for parking, pickup, or drop-off.