UPDATE: Rosewood Arts Festival has been rescheduled for Sunday, Oct. 25.
Columbia writer Arik Bjorn was sitting on a bar stool in Rockaways with owner Forrest Whitlark five years ago watching a movie, when an idea spontaneously popped up in conversation.
“(Whitlark) turned to me at one point in the evening and said, ‘Arik, let’s start an arts festival,’ ” Bjorn said. “I said, ‘OK,’ and turned back to the TV. We looked at each other and said, ‘Now what?’ ”
Bjorn said the idea began to develop more with the help of the Trenholm Artist Guild; the event would be a fall counterpart to the spring Rosewood Crawfish Festival, but more arts-oriented.
It came to fruition in fall 2011 in the form of the Rosewood Arts Festival, which takes place at the restaurant at Rosewood Drive and Howard Street. The first year’s event had about 40 booths, and more than 100 are expected at this year’s event Saturday, Oct. 3.
“From the inception, the idea was to create a family-friendly festival that artists could afford,” he said.
Bjorn said 10-foot-by-10-foot spaces at some festivals can cost between $500 to $1,000, whereas Rosewood Arts Festival only charges $30 per booth. He said organizers rent booths to artists up until the day of the event.
“I’m willing to bet this is probably the most affordable, cheapest booth in the country,” he said.
The funds from the booths pay for entertainment. The event is free to patrons.
“We wanted a festival that wasn’t just friendly to the artists but friendly to the community,” he said. “ You don’t have to pay a dime to come here.”
Bjorn said several forms of art “above beer can art” will be featured, including abstract art, music, mosaics, literature, jewelry, pottery, garbage art and electrical art.
The festival also will host contests, including a cash prize for the artist with the best cheeseburger or cheese fries artwork, and prizes for the best artist and best exhibit.
New features of this year’s Rosewood Arts Festival include a literary section with about 15 writers. Even Bjorn, a writer himself, will sell copies of his short story collection “Birds of a Feather.”
This year’s festival is dedicated to a mainstay at several Midlands festivals and events, Jeffrey “The Magic Man” Pardue, who died earlier this year, Bjorn said.
He said Pardue was known for doing magic and balloon art, and some of his family will come from as far away as Louisiana for a balloon release in his honor.
“Just about anything he touched turned to entertainment gold,” he said.
Bjorn said organizing the event allows him and volunteers to “build a city in a day” while showing off the talent of local artists.
“You don’t realize how eclectic and diverse the artistic community is until you put on an event like this,” he said. “We build an art city for the day, and this becomes a really vibrant community. By the end of the day, you establish new connections and relationship and (have) seen fun things.”