Children will have the chance to see and be artists during the 55th annual Columbus Arts Festival.

Children will have the chance to see and be artists during the 55th annual Columbus Arts Festival.

The festival, a signature event on the local arts scene, will feature an area offering 18 different activities for children. Families also can stroll along the Scioto riverfront and visit with the more than 300 artists who will be exhibiting and selling their work at the Downtown festival, which is produced by the Greater Columbus Arts Council.

In the Art Makes Columbus Activity Village, children can try out acting with volunteers from Shadowbox Live, work on a mural, create edible items, meet animals from the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium and make a fun animal-related craft. They also can create a musical instrument, learn how to make "flubber," work with raw recycled cotton paper pulp and more. Most activities are free but some have a fee.

Organizers are relocating the kids' area this year, said festival spokeswoman Jami Goldstein. "We're moving to the park area by the river," she said. "The new area will provide more space and more seating for families while their kids are engaging in art activities."

Another longtime element of the festival that's designed to engage is the Children's Gallery-a special area where they can play art collector. Ages 12 and younger can shop in a kid-size gallery that sells works donated by exhibiting artists. Everything is $5 or less. The gallery opens at 11:30 a.m. Saturday and Sunday.

Children love the opportunity to peruse the art and purchase their favorite piece, Goldstein said, and the Children's Gallery also is a way to develop the next generation of art collectors. "We want to encourage young people to start to figure out what kind of art they like and develop their own taste and begin a collection," she said. "The children are always just delighted with their purchases. We're very grateful that our festival artists are so generous."

Families are encouraged to be on the lookout for the Art Shark mascot. Visitors can take a selfie with Arthur S. Hark around the Art Makes Columbus Activity Village from 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. each day or at the Scioto Mile Fountain in the afternoon.

In addition to art and activities, the festival also offers plenty of drink and dining options, including many local food trucks.

-Melissa Kossler Dutton