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What Is the Tempe Arts Festival?

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  • Written By: Laura Metz
  • Edited By: Shereen Skola
  • Last Modified Date: 24 November 2016
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The Tempe Arts Festival is held twice a year in downtown Tempe, Arizona. This large street fair historically features over 400 artists in a number of mediums. Live music, street performers, and free crafts for children are also featured. Artists compete for top artist in each category and for best overall artist.

For three days every fall and spring, downtown Tempe floods with over 200,000 artists, musicians, vendors, and spectators. The Tempe Arts Festival runs from morning to dusk, regardless of weather. Admission is free, and a percentage of the proceeds are given to local charities.

Before the festival, a committee selects just over 400 artists from as many as 1000 applications. Each booth must feature handmade art of some type, and the artist must operate the booth personally, discussing products with customers. Many types of artwork are present at the Tempe Arts Festival, including wood, metal, jewelry, and photography.

Each artist is entered in the competition in a specific category. A committee judges the artists on the quality of their work, presentation, and how well they engage customers. Awards are then given for top artist in each category and best overall artist for the entire festival. The winners receive cash prizes and awards certificates to display in their booths for the remainder of the festival.

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During the course of the Tempe Arts Festival, local musicians perform in many genres, including folk music, classic rock, and jazz. Some musicians perform on one of the stages set up in different areas of the festival, while others play their music among the booths. Magicians, palms readers, caricature artists, and others also entertain attendees throughout the festival.

At the Festival Food Court, visitors can choose a meal from several booths, serving items from a multitude of ethnicities. In addition, beverage and snack booths are scattered throughout the festival, offering soft drinks, lemonade, and tea. A children’s area, the Kids Innovation Station, offers free crafts and activities for elementary and preschool aged children. Inside, children choose from several activities such as sun print photography or hat making; later, the finished product can be taken home.

The Tempe Arts Festival is also home to the Arizona Wine Festival and the Art of Beer. The vineyards and microbreweries in each are all based in Arizona. Visitors can buy a ticket for tastings or buy wine or beer by the glass, case, or keg.

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