Local Talent highlighted in smaller Waco Cultural Arts Fest

Waco’s diverse arts scene takes the spotlight — and stages, activity tents and outdoor market — this weekend as the Waco Cultural Arts Fest marks its 18th annual appearance at Indian Spring Park and the Waco Convention Center.

The long-running festival is actually several overlapping festivals, each with a distinct emphasis and related activities, all held in the span of a weekend.

For founder, organizer and president Doreen Ravenscroft, the annual fest offers contact with the arts on multiple levels, from children’s hands-on painting, mask making and wood sculpture, and live performances from local bands, dance schools and theaters.

Continuing renovation work at the Waco Suspension Bridge will constrain the area available for the festival’s visual arts activities, with musical, dance and stage performances held at the Main Stage of the Park’s amphitheater.

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Missing from this year’s arts emphases are the {254} Dance Fest due to a booking conflict at the convention center and the African Film Festival. The artist Marketplace also is roughly one-third its pre-pandemic size. Ravenscroft said those have been slow to recover from Pandemic disruptions that affected travel and participation.

Children’s arts activities, a leading festival draw particularly for hundreds of local families, will offer easel painting, mask making, wood sculpture and face painting, although space limitations will mean no clay or paper sculpture activities.

This year’s music lineup, organized by Keep Waco Loud’s Jacob Green, is heavy on local acts.

Friday will feature one-hour sets from Fenix ​​Theory and American Merit starting at 6 pm before rock and rhythm-and-blues headliner the Scott Strickland Band from Austin plays at 8 pm Saturday’s music starts at 2 pm with Mariachi Azteca, then a six- hour block kicking off at 4 pm with Smooth Nature, followed by King Azule Diablo, Cory Ironside, Big R, Sunn, Nigel Cole and Suede before Kam KT wraps up the music at 9 pm

Sunday’s live music pays tribute to beloved longtime musician Classie Ballou, who died earlier this year. The festival’s Main Stage will be named for Ballou in his Honor with several Ballou family Musicians bringing their Bands to play. Cam’ron Ballou & Darkers Shade of Zydeco will begin at 11 am, with Ballou’s Cats at noon and CaCean Ballou & the Dirty Crawfish closing the afternoon’s music at 3 pm Rounding out the Sunday music are Sanger Heights Blues Allstars at 1 pm and Home At Last at 2 pm

WordFest, which showcases poetry, writing and spoken word performances, brings Texas poet d. Ellis Phelps to Waco for the weekend. Phelps, founder of Moon Shadow Sanctuary Press and author of four books of Poetry and one novel, will lead Saturday afternoon workshops in “Silence & Sound: Poetic rock & roll.” Saturday evening will feature readings from this year’s WordFest anthology, which features 72 contributors from the United States and overseas.

Sunday’s WordFest schedule offers a Performing Poetry workshop by Rae Denton and Gary Heck with an afternoon open mic session featuring Native American flute musicians, rhythm instruments and poets.

ScienceFest, with a lineup of science-related displays and demonstrations, including several by local Robotics students on the high school and collegiate level, will run Saturday and Sunday at the Waco Convention Center.

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