Get ready for a rockin' good time when the 2018 Bayou City Art Festival takes over downtown Houston. The strolling troubadours, Tino and Jose - The Rock 'n Roll Mariachis, will be serenading festival-goers with their fusion sound and, over in the Children's Creative Zone, art car legend and weird house inhabitant Bonnie Blue the Rock Lady will be doing sketches on river rocks.
"People will be able to stop by her booth; this is free," says Roger Bare, executive director of presenter Art Colony Association, Inc. "She hands it to the kids and says, 'You rock.'"
Bare may be new to the Bayou City Art Festival — he came on board earlier this fall — but he's no stranger to fun and he's bringing that playful spirit to the festival by introducing a costume contest. "We just thought, I don't know about you, but when I was a kid I wanted to wear my Halloween costume all the time, the whole month of October. Given our proximity to Halloween I thought, we’re going to try it," says Bare, who adds they'll have categories for best and most creative costumes in adult and children's categories, with a prize giveaway on Sunday at 2 p.m.
This fall's festival also makes it easier to participate in ride-sharing. "Regardless of the service, be it Lyft, Uber or Yellow Cab or taxi, there’s going to be a designated drop off point. It specifically is the 1000 block of Smith which is close to the entrance, in front of the Julia Ideson Library," says Bare.
No need to worry. Other than these new features they haven't broken the mold and we can count on returning favorites at the festival: a curated collection of more than 300 artists in 19 disciplines, eight bands either on stage or roaming throughout the festival, food trucks galore and giant bubbles with Houston artist Jennifer Lang.
"We have the big bubble lady who does the giant bubbles. That was huge [last time]. The kids were like, 'Oh my God this is incredible,'" says Bare, adding that the creative zone for children includes interactive activities and take home projects.
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The quality of the art in the festival seems to get better and better every year. Bare says they received more than 800 applications and we'll see the best 300 or so artists, curated through a jury process. This year's featured artist is Chris Vance, a 2D artist who uses acrylic, charcoal, spray paint and graffiti to paint colorful characters and futuristic scenes on wood or paper. His homage to Houston, All Spaced Out, was inspired in part by our region's skateboarding culture.
Insider tips: Purchase tickets at participating Randalls stores for a discount, and plan ahead for the best parking if driving downtown. The most convenient garage is at 1100 Smith and the Theater District Parking Garages have reopened. The festival also is accessible by riding METRO.
Art Colony Association has named the local nonprofits benefiting from 2018's fall festival, so your support helps A Cause to Give us Paws, Fresh Arts, Recipe for Success Foundation, The Arc of Greater Houston, The University of Houston - Clear Lake Art Gallery and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.
Bayou City Art Festival Downtown is scheduled for 10 a.m.-6 p.m. October 13-14, surrounding City Hall, Hermann Square, Houston Public Library, Sam Houston Park and adjacent streets, 901 Bagby, 713-521-0133, bayoucityartfestival.com, $5 to $15 (free for children under age five).