Jun. 10—The Columbia Festival of the Arts, a celebration of all forms of art and entertainment, is back this year, though in a mostly virtual format, organizers said.
Lakefest, a free, three-day event featuring bands, art, food and special attractions will not open the festival as in years past despite the easing of pandemic-related restrictions.
"Things were lifted too late to get all that together," said Robert Neal Marshall, managing director of the Columbia Festival of the Arts. "It takes almost a year ahead to plan it."
Instead, the festival began June 7 with a virtual fine arts and crafts show that runs through June 20. Featuring juried artists from past Lakefests, the virtual site (columbiafestival.org/) provides links to each artists' website/Facebook page.
"It is our way of putting out our hand to them and saying, 'We haven't forgotten you,'" Marshall said. "We are here to promote you. We care and the community cares."
On June 21, an in-person opening gala party for the Fourth Annual Columbia Film Festival — part of the Festival of the Arts — and the Columbia premiere of the film "Uprooted" will take place at Merriweather Post Pavilion.
"The folks at Merriweather were very gracious," Marshall said. "The venue was available. They were kind to work with us before it opens up again in July."
A limited number of both VIP gala tickets and general admission tickets are available for the event. While tickets can be purchased on the day of the event, Marshall encouraged advanced purchase.
"There will be a lot of fun things that night," Marshall said. "It will be outdoors but covered, so even if it rains, you're inside the theater."
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Remaining events for the film festival will all be virtual, a format that proved to a be a successful option for the film festival last year, according to Marshall.
"It was a challenge to do," Marshall said. "It was a survival method that we will continue to do. We reached a larger audience."
More than 60 films will be featured during this year's film festival, as well as workshops, discussions and a performance by Kat Edmonson, who will sing songs from the movies.
Plans are to host everything in-person next year, with the return of Lakefest and in-person movie screenings during the Columbia Film Festival.
"We will be bigger, better and brighter than ever," Marshall said. "Columbia Festival of the Arts is known for fun, unique stuff. It's our trademark."
The Columbia Festival of the Arts' Fine Arts and Craft Show runs through June 20. The Columbia Film Festival opens June 21 through June 25. For more information, go to ColumbiaFestival.org.