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Festifall to bring multi-weekend art market to Chapel Hill residents and students

Festifall, pictured here on Saturday, Oct. 12, 2019, will now take place over multiple weekends on Franklin Street, promising a celebration of art, music, performances and a craft market. 
Photo courtesy of Melissa Bartoletta.

Festifall Arts Markets & More, a showcase of local and regional artists, artisans and performers, will return to Chapel Hill for three successive Saturdays, beginning on Oct. 8.

Planned by Chapel Hill Community Arts and Culture, the annual festival was often held as a single-day event before 2021, Community Arts and Culture Marketing and Communications Coordinator Melissa Bartoletta said. Last year, events were held on multiple weekends across downtown rather than in one place due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Bartoletta said this year, Festifall will also take place over multiple weekends in response to community concerns about congestion on Franklin Street.

When Community Arts and Culture programming was shut down during the COVID-19 pandemic, they conducted open-forum polling about how future events could be improved for Chapel Hill residents, Bartoletta said.

She said residents expressed a desire to see more frequent, smaller-scale arts experiences that did not completely block the flow of downtown traffic.

“We have made three different events throughout the month of October that have less of a footprint on Chapel Hill,” Bartoletta said.

She added that this year, only Church Street will be closed for Festifall. 

Each market of Festifall will also be expanded through the multi-weekend format, she said. There will be distinct lineups for Oct. 8, 15 and 22, with over 30 vendors each weekend, Bartoletta said.

Vendors this year include Gilded Lily Glass, Orange County Artists Guild and Red Oak Wood Shop. Food and drink will also be provided by multiple local businesses, including Carolina Brewery and LocoPops.

Bartoletta said in addition to supporting Orange County creatives, festival attendees will be engaged in an interactive, participatory experience.

For example, participants can attend live painting and drumming sessions with the Living Arts Collective, a print-making workshop hosted by UNC School of Government Design Manager Robby Poore and three separate community mural stations hosted by local artists.

One workshop leader is Mayanthi Jayawardena, a Durham-based digital illustrator, videographer, muralist and founder of the art company Serendib Creative. 

Jayawardena said she will lead one of the community mural-making events and guide participants of all ages in contributing to a freestanding mural. The mural will respond to a prompt related to embracing change in seasons and in life.

“People can come up and create their own artwork or message following my prompt and at the end of it, it’s going to be this beautiful community piece that everyone’s contributed to,” said Jayawardena.

There are also a variety of musical ensembles and soloists scheduled to appear at Festifall, including folk singer Vito di Bona, folk-groove artist J Candeed and acoustic duo Angela and Will. 

Several university ensembles, including the Carolina Ukulele Ensemble, the Tarpeggios and Moonlight Dance Crew, will also perform.

Crystal Wu, marketing and development communications manager for Arts Everywhere, said the Oct. 8 market will place a heavier emphasis on student artistry since it coincides with Carolina Family Weekend. 

Arts Everywhere, a sponsor of Festifall, is an initiative that aims to integrate the arts into University life. 

Wu said Arts Everywhere’s sponsorship of Festifall also hopes to create a space where members of the UNC arts scene can forge creative connections with the wider Chapel Hill community. 

“We want to foster and strengthen our relationship between community members and the folks on campus so that we all feel included in this shared and creative life that we’re leading,” said Wu. 

Festifall will take place from 1 to 6 p.m. on Oct. 8, 15 and 22 at 140 W. Franklin St., and is free and open to the public. The schedule of vendors and acts is available on Festifall’s website.

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