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Building a tradition: Artists reunite in Downtown for second annual festival

Delicious, fun, creative: that only begins to describe the East Main St. Arts Festival coming up on Saturday, May 6 from noon until 8:00 p.m. What began as an idea between a small group of artists is quickly growing into one of the Arlington Cultural District’s new, favorite traditions.

The mother of invention

The East Main St. Arts Festival began as an idea shared between a group of artists who are members of Arlington Proud, a community-based advocacy organization that hosts the festival. Artist Amanda Gail James, director of the festival, remembers: “The artists, myself included, were doing tiny pop-up art shows about once a quarter. The last one we had was in December 2015 in the now-demolished Six Flags Mall in a cramped, dark, tiny room.”

After the event, the group decided to look for a new venue, preferably outdoors with plenty of light.

“We had no idea what we were doing!” laughed Amanda. “I took the lead since I had planned events before.” When an idea’s right, it’s right, and the East Main St. Arts Festival was born. Exceeding all expectations, nearly 3000 people attended the event held in Spring 2016.

New in 2017

Word spread among local artists and vendors about the success of last year’s festival, so this year, attendees will discover even more to enjoy. More food vendors will be on hand this year, including the Candle Lite Inn, Pantego Bay and Pokey O's. Just over 50 artisan booths were included in last year’s show; this year, nearly 90 artists will participate.

Hand-crafted with love

Participating artists and vendors are attracted, in part, to East Main St. Arts Festival because fees to participate are lower than many other area shows. Lower costs, explains Amanda, means lower prices. “Festival goers are going to find reasonably priced, one of a kind art and wares. Everyone is happy!”

More so, East Main St. provides a bridge between local artists and their community. “Everyone who is a part of the event does it because we love Arlington and we love creativity. Our aim is to put the word out that Arlington is bursting with talent,” said Amanda. “We’re all volunteers who have the backing of an amazing non-profit. My hope is for people to see this event as proof that dreams can come true if you work hard enough at achieving them.”

Arts and culture in Downtown

In 2016, Downtown Arlington was designated an official State of Texas Cultural District, thanks to the passion and creativity of local cultural institutions and individual artists including the East Main St. Arts Festival organizers and participants.

“By having this event downtown, we achieve the two main goals of the festival,” said Amanda. “We get to promote local artists and vendors where they create, right here in the heart of DFW, and locals are able to really see the creativity that they can find right in their own backyard.”

Check out the East Main St. Arts Festival and discover another reason Downtown is oh so #authenticallyArlington.

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About Downtown Arlington

An official State of Texas Cultural District, Downtown Arlington, Texas blends a unique mix of activities, sights, tastes and sounds that attract visitors and locals alike. Within its less than a two-mile radius, Downtown is home to a top tier public research university, prolific fine and performing artists and arts institutions, live entertainment, exciting NCAA and professional athletics, one-of-a-kind dining and retail, and a supportive business climate. Downtown Arlington brings together a plethora of cultures and inspirations with a character all its own.