By RICK STEELHAMMER
What began as a three-day weekend of music, dance, food and art events will include 15 days of visual, musical, literary, performance and culinary arts taking place at more than 40 venues as FestivALL Charleston celebrates its 15th anniversary starting June 16.
During its 15-year run, FestivALL Charleston has played an active role in "improving both the city's well-being and its economy," said FestivALL Director Brittany Javins, prior to announcing this year's performance and event schedule on Tuesday.
Javins said surveys of FestivALL's out-of-town visitors show that they stay an average of four days, far surpassing the national average tourism visit length for travelers. A wide array of performances and events, 70 percent of which are offered free of charge, while others are staged at below customary prices thanks to corporate donors, make FestivALL a value for both local residents and visitors to the area, Javins said.
Since taking office as Charleston's mayor, Amy Shuler Goodwin said she and her staff have asked the operators of 103 Charleston businesses what activity brought in the most people. "FestivALL was the answer we got" more than any other response, she said.
The idea for FestivALL originated with Charleston City Treasurer Victor Grigoraci and Mary Angel, who thought a summer music and art festival based loosely on Charleston, South Carolina's Spoletto Festival would bring people to Charleston and promote the area's art and music scene.
"Mary, Joe Wallenberger and I presented the idea to [former] Mayor [Danny] Jones 16 years ago, and we had his support from the beginning," said Grigoraci. "I'm floored by how much it's grown since then, and how effective it has been in bringing Charleston's art communities together and producing so many great volunteers."
"We hope it will grow into a weeklong or nine-day event," Mountain Stage host and FestivALL planning committee spokesman Larry Groce said two weeks before the three-day debut event was staged.
Prior to the 15 days of activities scheduled this June, FestivALL will highlight the culinary prowess of chefs and cooks at 19 Charleston-area restaurants during the annual Taste-of-ALL on May 25 at Four Points by Sheraton. Free KRT shuttles will carry foodies between Taste-of-All and the annual Vandalia Gathering, also taking place that day.
This year's Taste-of-All will feature music by Ben Davis and the Revelry and Minor Swing.
The 15th edition of FestivALL Charleston officially gets underway at 1 p.m. Sunday, June 16, with the annual Carriage Trail Walk, featuring stops for live music, dance and art along the 1.3-mile round-trip length of the trail. That event ends at 4 p.m. Later that day, the Clay Center hosts Jazz & Jambalaya, featuring Cajun food and music by Bob Thompson and Friends, from 6 to 10 p.m.
On June 17, FestivALL teams up with the West Virginia Power, also celebrating its 15th anniversary, to bring the Davisson Brothers Band to Haddad Riverfront Park from 6 to 9 p.m.
Other FestivALL events include:
n June 18 - Taylor Books will host a Feminine Rising Book Reading featuring Andi Fekete at 6 p.m., while Resurrection Church, located in the former Capitol Center Theater, will host Gospel Fest at 7 p.m.
n June 19 - "Three Things: My First, My Favorite, My Future" speaker series featuring Tighe Bullock, Leeshia Lee and Connor Knighten at the John L. Dickinson Family Homeowner Education and Family Center, 815 Court Street, 7 p.m.
n June 20 - ArtWalk, downtown Charleston, 5 to 8 p.m.
n June 21 - Moses Automotive Live on the Levee at Haddad Riverfront Park, 6:30 to 9:30 p.m., performers TBA.
n June 22 - CAMC Foundation Run for Your Life 5K Run/Walk starting from Haddad Riverfront Park; the Charleston YWCA's "Over the Edge" rappelling fundraiser from the top of BB&T Building into Davis Park will take place from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; the FestivALL Art Parade starts at 10 a.m. from Capitol Street and Kanawha Boulevard, followed by the Smoke on the Water Chili Cookoff, with music by Walter DeBarr, Ghost Fleet, Megan Wren and Scroungehound, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Musicworks, Bluegrass Kitchen, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.; Ice Cream and the Arts in Elk City on Tennessee Avenue, 4 to 7 p.m.; Brent Green's multimedia presentation, "A Brief Spark Bookended by Darkness" at Clay Center's Caperton Planetarium and Theater, 7 p.m.
n June 23 - LGBTQ Literary Roundtable, Taylor Books, 3 to 5 p.m.; Vocal Chamber Concert, Cavendish Hall, 4 p.m.; Historical Bike Tours, 5 to 7 p.m.; Dance FestivAll featuring the Philadelphia dance company Koresh, Clay Center, 6 p.m., Mountain Stage featuring Steve Earle & the Dukes, Damien Jurado, Vanessa Peters and more, Culture Center.
n June 24 - Kiwanis Corporate Regatta, Kanawha Public Library, 11:30 a.m.; Travelin' Appalachian Revue, Taylor Books, 4:30 p.m.
n June 25 - Bridgefest, a celebration of Bridge Road's shops and eateries, with music and dance, 7:30 to 9:30 p.m.; Charleston Civic Chorus, 7:30 to 9 p.m., Baptist Temple.
n June 26 - "Outlier," a documentary telling the story of Katherine Johnson, the White Sulphur Springs native and NASA mathematician by Charleston's Motion Masters Studio, 7 p.m. at Floralee Hark Cohen Cinema; StreetWorks Art Auction, Washington Street East, 7:30 p.m.
n June 27 - Mayor's Concert featuring the Suffers and more, Clay Center, 7 p.m.
n June 28 - Moses Auto Group Live on the Levee, 6:30, performers TBA.
n June 29 - Capitol Street Art Fair, Children's Art Fair and Kanawha County Public Library Street Fair, Capitol Street, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Mutts Gone Nuts dog entertainer troupe, three performances in Charleston Coliseum & Convention Center Little Theater, times TBA; Taco Fest by Black Sheep Burritos & Brew, Capitol Street, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Dance in Davis Park, sessions at 12:35 p.m. and 3:30 p.m.; Poems While You Wait, Taylor Books, noon to 2 p.m.; The Wine & Jazz Music Festival featuring Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Lakecia Benjamin and Bob Thompson Unit at University of Charleston, 2:10 p.m.
n June 30 - Capitol Street Art Fair and Children's Art Fair continues on Capitol Street, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.; West Virginia Jewish Film Festival, Clay Center, 7 to 10 p.m.; Mountain Stage featuring John Pizzarelli Trio, Catherine Russell, Devotchka, Culture Center Theater.