As organizers prepare for this weekend’s Piedmont Park Arts Festival in Midtown, they are making the third annual event bigger than its predecessors.
“It’s larger and we just got back with meeting with the [Piedmont Park] Conservancy and I’ve also just finished reviewing the artists participating,” said Patrick Dennis, president of the Midtown-based Atlanta Foundation for Public Spaces, which is hosting the festival. “We’ll still have the usual arts vendors, the gourmet food, musicians and activities.
“It’s unusually more brilliant than it has been in the past. We do have a place to showcase our local, Georgia artists, but the quality has just exploded. It’s an absolute brilliant lineup. I’m extremely impressed by the quality. Weather permitting, Atlanta is going to see a show they’ve never seen before.”
This year’s festival, set for Saturday and Sunday, will include 250 artists, jewelers and crafters plus artist demonstrations, live acoustic music, a street market, a children’s play area, food trucks and beverages. But it also will include three special events.
First up is the Piedmont Summer Sprint, a 5-kilometer fun run Saturday at 9:30 a.m. Registration is $25 for adults and $12 for children 12 and under, with discounts available for families of four and groups of 20. Registration closes Friday at midnight.
Next is the attempt to break the Guinness Book of World Records’ mark for the longest chain of people to pass a hula hoop, 500. It will take place Saturday at 4 p.m. at the park’s active oval. Registration is from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
“[Foundation Vice President Randall Fox] has gotten the first Guinness world record secured a few years ago at the Chastain Arts Festival,” Dennis said. “The minute he spoke to a group already about this record, Hoop Essence, they got involved. They are donating the proceeds to Embraced, [a nonprofit]. They redistribute gently used orthopedic equipment to those in the Atlanta area. Of course, [Randall] has done it before. Why not do it again?”
Rounding out the special events is the Sunday Funday Corn Hole Tournament hosted by Monday Night Brewing Co., Sunday from 2 to 6 p.m. Residents can register on site or online, and the adults-only event also will benefit Embraced. The registration fee is $15 in advance or $20 on site, and cash prizes will be given to the top teams.
“It is fun. It’s really a popular thing around here,” Dennis said. “We’ve discovered it goes very well with beer.”
Embraced founder Lauren O’Brien, whose Midtown-based charity provides assistive mobility devices (wheelchairs, walkers and crutches) to underprivileged patients locally and all over the world, said she is thrilled with the partnership between the nonprofit and the festival.
“First and foremost we’re extremely grateful,” she said. “We do a great job of getting equipment to those in need. However, like any nonprofit, we are always in need of financial resources in order to do that. We think it’s great. It’s a great avenue to share with the public that attend the event what we do, how we do it and give them an opportunity to share in that, both through financial donations and equipment donations.”
O’Brien also said Embraced is seeking volunteers and will host its annual fundraiser, Battle of the Burgers, Oct. 12 at John Howell Park in Virginia-Highland.
If you go:
o What: Piedmont Park Arts Festival
o When: Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Sunday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
o Where: Piedmont Park, 1215 Piedmont Ave., Midtown
o Information: www.piedmontparkartsfestival.com