What do you get when you cross 10 gallery/performance spaces, an outdoor sculpture garden, tons of good food and drink, a broad spectrum of activities and more bands than you can shake a drumstick at? If you said a really great time, you'd be right. But where does one have to go to find an event that can offer all this? Well, as it turns out, not very far at all. The third annual Humboldt Arts Festival is right around the corner and it promises to be an event you don't want to miss.
The Humboldt Arts Festival is the brainchild of the Humboldt Arts Project. The event was co-founded in 2010 by HAP founder Victor "Vico" Hernandez, along with brothers Chris and Nick Kieselhorst. "The festival basically showcases the best of what Humboldt County has to offer in the emerging arts, painting, sculpture, music and performance," said Vico. "Before the festival there wasn't anything that really focused on delivering this kind of experience for the community." It is an event that Vico and HAP are, with good reason, very excited about. "There are so many great artists and this just gives us the opportunity to all come together on such a great weekend where there's already so much energy and so much to celebrate -- I think the potential is pretty big for this event and the organization to continue," declared Vico.
This year's festival will be held Saturday and Sunday, May 12 and 13, in Arcata, coinciding with Humboldt State University's graduation weekend. This scheduling overlap is no accident. The festival founders always intended the event to be part of the graduation celebration. "[Graduation weekend] was a key component -- so many of the participating artists are students and many of them are graduating," said Vico. "[The festival] is their opportunity to be able to share their work, essentially what they've worked for over the last four years, with their families who are coming in from all over the country -- all over the world. They come over here and see [the student] artwork in gallery spaces, and see their daughters and sons up on the stage at this massive event. The way that everybody comes together is really pretty magical," he explained.
The timing of the Humboldt Arts Festival creates a great opportunity for local non-student participants as well creating a chance for established local artists and vendors to get exposure beyond the Redwood Curtain. "We've basically got a global audience for those two days...people that are coming from all over the world to experience what Humboldt County really has to offer," said Vico. "It's beneficial for local businesses, for the local community and the commercial development of the arts here because there's a lot of great artwork created here but there isn't that much work being sold here because it's a smaller economy." Exposure to that outside audience can mean a great boost for local artists financially and in terms of reputation.
In the past, the Humboldt Arts Festival has generated enough revenue to pay for itself. What was raised beyond the cost of the festival went to funding monthly HAP events. This year, organizers have their eye on a more ambitious use for any surplus funds. "Hopefully this year sunshine comes up both days and we're able to raise a little more and be able to take further steps into moving towards creating our independent non-profit," said Vico. While becoming an independent NPO could be a costly and time consuming undertaking, Vico feels it is a much-needed move.
"Arcata could use an organization that devotes itself to the arts. ...Having something like that in Arcata would be beneficial to the artist community," he said. Currently, the HAP falls under the umbrella of the Arcata Main Street NPO.
The 2012 Humboldt Arts Festival has something for just about everyone to enjoy. The festival will feature great music including Woven Roots, Steel Standing and Missing Link's Got Soul. Glow: A Humboldt Fashion Show will take place on Saturday and Sunday, and there will be performances by Samba da Alegria, No Limits Tap & Jazz, Humboldt Finest Fire Artists and many others. For a full schedule of events and a list of venues, visit http://humboldtartsfestival.com.