Menil Community Arts Festival: Free But Cash Would Be Handy

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If you plan to attend the all-day Menil Community Arts Festival,be sure to stop by the Menil Bookstore first to pick up a schedule and map. A half-dozen readings, about as many musical performances, film screenings, a "family drum circle," and an overlapping series of workshops are scheduled over six hours, at as many 14 different venues.

With more than a dozen arts organizations taking part, the festival is free, but cash will come in handy. Food-truck vendors will serve artisan cheese, barbeque, and crepes, among other choices. Of course you could just bring your own picnic: the lawns at the Menil and Mandell Park are two of the most popular picnic grounds in the neighborhood, and both will be busy sites for hundreds of festival-goers.

The kids will have plenty to do. Writers in the Schools will lead regular writing tours through the Menil Collection. A garden tile workshop for children is scheduled at Mandell Park. Young filmmakers are invited to attend workshops in stop-motion animation at the Aurora Picture Show and "scratch" film at SWAMP. And no one is saying these are for the kids only.

Cash will also come in handy at the four-year-old Houston Indie Book Festival , which will set up on the east side of the Menil Collection, along Mulberry Street. Organizer Rebecca Wadlinger, the managing editor of Gulf Coast Magazine, which co-sponsors the book festival, is expecting huge crowds.

Only two years ago, the Book Festival fit into Domy Books with just 17 vendors. "There was a desire for an event like this," she says, "so when people found out about it after the fact, they started to call us." This year they have about 70 vendors, including nationally distributed journals, small presses, and local bookstores and literary organizations.

The book festival will also be honoring and remembering Marion Barthelme, Houston's longtime literary patron, and Gulf Coast's executive board president, who recently passed away.

The Menil Community Arts Festival: Saturday, April 2, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on the Menil Campus: bordered by Richmond Avenue, Alabama Street, Mandell Street and Yupon Street. Free.

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