Riverfront event offers plenty of art, plus hand-on activities and performances

Join 450,000 of your friends and neighbors on the Scioto Mile as the 57th annual Columbus Arts Festival sets up shop this weekend.

The festival takes place June 8-10 along the riverfront in Downtown Columbus. In addition to more than 270 artists from 34 states, the event also features loads of kid-friendly fun, including performances on six stages, demonstrations at the Big Local Art Tent, hands-on activities and the popular Children’s Gallery.

And who can pass up the chance to get a photo with the festival mascot, Arthur S. Hark? The Art Shark will appear:

3:30-4:30 p.m. June 8 at the fountain in Bicentennial Park 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. June 9 at the Hands-On Activities Village 3-5 p.m. June 9 at the fountain in Bicentennial Park 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. June 10 at the Hands-On Activities Village 2-3:30 p.m. June 10 at the fountain in Bicentennial Park

The Hands-On Activities Village is moving to the new Scioto Peninsula Park adjacent to COSI. The area, open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. June 8, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. June 9 and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. June 10, offers the chance to paint, emboss, make musical instruments, play with Columbus Crew SC and COSI and more. Most activities are free and open to children and adults. Also located here is the Children’s Gallery, which allows patrons 12 and younger to buy discounted artwork for $5 or less from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. June 9 and 10. Children can go on the Silk Road Scavenger Hunt and win a prize for participating in five or more activities.

The Columbus Children’s Choir will perform at 11 a.m. June 10 on the Bicentennial Stage. Other kid-friendly acts include The Shazzbots and Columbus Children’s Theatre.

Need to feed or change the baby? A family care station, open until 7 p.m. June 8 and 9 and 5 p.m. June 10, offers parents an air-conditioned place to do so near the activities area.

The Columbus Arts Festival attracts more than 450,000 visitors each year. Hours are 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. June 8, 10 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. June 9 and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. June 10. (Artist booths close at 9 p.m.) For more information, go to columbusartsfestival.org.

In conjunction with the festival, the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission’s Riverfest will set up free canoeing and kayaking behind the Bicentennial Park stage, next to the Main Street Bridge. Hours are noon to 6 p.m. June 9 and noon to 4 p.m. June 10. Spots are offered on a first-come, first-serve basis or in advance at morpc.org/riverfest.