Golden Valley’s Arts & Music Festival is Sept. 16 at the water tower

The water tower behind Golden Valley City Hall will be the place to be Saturday, Sept. 16.

The city’s 14th annual Arts & Music Festival will unfold there from 9:30 a.m. to 10 p.m., complete with works by local artists, games and interactive arts activities for families, live music and dancing, and local food trucks.

A 9:30 a.m. parade will kick off the festivities, and a laser light show from 9:30-10 p.m. will be the grand finale.

This is the third year the festival has been in September, at the water tower. Previous gatherings were in May at the Brookview Community Center.

An estimated 15 artists will display and sell their work from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

New features this year include chalk art by professional artists Katie Bush and Jessica Barnd. The public will also be invited to chalk.

“A number of us have talked about having chalk art,” said Dean Penk, chair of the Golden Valley Community Foundation, hosts for the event. “We’ve got to show people what it looks like and then go after sponsors next year.”

An art gallery will highlight 25 years of photographs submitted in the city’s annual photo contest.

A caricaturist will provide free caricatures for kids and canines.

A kids’ area, with the theme of children’s books, will feature activities inspired by favorite children’s books, in conjunction with the Golden Valley Library. The library will bring its mobile library cart to issue library cards so that children can get their very own first library card.

Friends of the Hennepin County Library are sharing one free book per family to take home after the festival.

Live music during the day will feature Wendy’s Wiggle, Jiggle and Jam! from 11-11:45 a.m., Big Surf from noon to 1:30 p.m., Rock of Ages from 2:15-2:45 p.m., Golden Valley residents Dean Spence and Mick Powell from 3-5 p.m., and High and Mighty from 6:30-9:30 p.m.

“This year’s festival is the biggest once since I’ve been involved,” said Penk, who has worked with the foundation since 2011.

He estimated that between 3,500 and 4,000 people attend the festival each year.

Co-chairpersons for the event are Luke Weisberg, George Abide and Philip Lund.

Weisberg, who has been involved with the festival committee since its inception, said there have been two big surprises through the years. One has been watching the activities that have evolved from the festival, which has been “kind of interesting and exciting,” he said. “New stuff pops up each year.”

This will be the third year for a family creative space that was the brainchild of a couple of people, Weisberg said.

“The other surprise is that the festival continues to pull in new people with new energy and interests,” Weisberg said. “The fact that this festival is still running 14 years in with new ideas and interest is most joyful in terms of community involvement. A core of us have stayed engaged. Each year we’re delighted and surprised to see people popping up with great glee. We’re delighted that they stay engaged.”

At various times, people involved with the festival planning bring in their family members or neighbors to help, he said. For example, Weisberg’s sister, Freddie, is a festival volunteer, and Weisberg’s sons have been involved. Anna Silverman, who is in charge of arts and crafts artists, got her husband, Charles, and his Boy Scout troop involved. Abide’s wife, Callista, is the festival’s volunteer coordinator.

“It’s fun when it happens,” Weisberg said. “It’s fun to see more and more volunteers.”

The festival’s evolution has been interesting, Weisberg said. “We started with a two-day Golden Valley Days festival over the weekend, and then shifted to a daylong event.”

Four years ago, festival officials decided to shift the event from May to September.

“It only takes having to listen to the storm sirens for a few years before you’re smart enough to make the change,” Weisberg said.

The number of artists’ booths is down to about 15 this year. “There was a downfall with the shift to fall,” Weisberg said. “We’re competing head to head with a couple of other art fairs.”

The festival costs about $30,000 a year, and much of it is funded by soliciting local businesses for sponsorships, according to Weisberg. Some funding comes from individual donors.

The committee agreed that introducing a laser light show choreographed to music would be an exciting way to cap off the festival, Weisberg said. “We used to do fireworks on Friday night, but we dropped that a couple of years ago,” he said.

Abide has been a member of the group for four years. This year, he’s in charge of music, plus beer and wine sales.

Four musical acts are slated to appear.

“The biggest is ‘High and Mighty’ from 6:30-9:30 p.m.,” Abide said. “They’ve been the featured act as long as I’ve been involved, and they attract quite a crowd.”

Wiggle, Jiggle & Jam, a kids’ band with interactive songs, is scheduled to play at 11 a.m., followed at noon by Big Surf, a ‘60s surf music group.

The festival is a lot of work to plan, but Abide says it’s rewarding to see people having a good time and reconnecting with old friends.

“The first year I was involved, I saw people I hadn’t seen since my kids were in elementary school,” he said.

Because Golden Valley is split by two highways and two school districts, Abide said, it’s hard to keep residents connected.

But for one day in September, the festival is dedicated to strengthening those connections and bringing friends and neighbors together for a memorable day of fun.

Schedule of events
9:30-10:30 a.m.: Parade beginning at Seeman Park at Florida Avenue North and Golden Valley Road, and ending at the City Hall, on Golden Valley Road just east of Winnetka Avenue.

10 a.m.-9 p.m.: Food trucks, including New Bohemia, Habanero Tacos, Adam’s Gyros, Naturally Delicious Ice Cream, kettle corn and hot dogs by the Boy Scouts. Beer and wine service starts at 11:30 a.m.

10 a.m.-9 pm.: 25 Years in the Valley gallery

10 a.m.-6 p.m.: Artists’ Walk booths

10 a.m.-3 p.m.: Community groups, Fun Square, face painting, caricature artists and henna booths

10 a.m.-2 p.m.: Family creative space

10 a.m.-2 p.m.: Antique toys area

11-11:45 a.m.: Wendy’s Wiggle, Jiggle and Jam!

Noon-1:30 p.m.: Big Surf

2:15-2:45 p.m.: Rock of Ages

3-5 p.m.: Literary Salon

9:30-10 p.m.: Laser light show