Metal sculpture was among the art exhibits at the 2016 Art in Bloom festival in Medford. [Mail Tribune / File photo]

Art, flowers and family fun

The 2017 Art in Bloom Festival in downtown Medford will feature family activities, entertainment and more than 140 plant and art vendors as it expands this weekend to take in The Commons.

"We added about 40 vendors since we included The Commons. There's more room and more space to spread out," says event organizer Amy Rose, speaking of the public space next to the Lithia Motors headquarters building.

The annual festival over Mother's Day weekend is from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, May 13, and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, May 14. Organizers expect about 20,000 people to visit the festival.

Festival-goers can get the most out of the weekend by stopping first at an information booth on Vogel Plaza, located at the corner of South Central Avenue and East Main Street near the Craterian Theater. Maps and entertainment schedules are available at the booth, and people can enter a giveaway to win gifts from artisans.

"We have something for everybody," Rose says. "There's so much more than art. It's why it's called the Art in Bloom festival. It's for all ages — and most of it's free. It really is a community event."

Horticulturists will show their plants and flowers alongside photography, jewelry, garden decor, paintings and other handmade artisan goods. While many of the artists and artisans are local, some come from as far away as Texas.

They will display their work along Main and Bartlett streets and Central Avenue, as well as on The Commons.

Food and beverage vendors will feed the crowds during the festival. Kid entrepreneurs also will have their custom-designed lemonade stands sprinkled throughout downtown. They will sell samples of their special lemonade recipes for $1 each.

Rose expects one of the main attractions for this year's Art in Bloom to be the new Walk on the Wild Side Animal Education Exhibit. The animals there include a baby tiger, a serval wild cat native to Africa, a binturong bearcat from Asia and a baby wallaby, which looks similar to a small kangaroo. The exhibit is in a parking lot between the Craterian Theater and the Rogue Gallery & Art Center.

Walk on the Wild Side is a nonprofit Portland wild animal park that provides a refuge for unwanted exotic pets. Its animal ambassadors visit events throughout the year and help educate people about responsible animal ownership and wildlife species.

Also for animal lovers, Nature Joe will entertain families with his large selection of reptiles and other animals. Kids will be able to hold lizards, snakes and a hedgehog by visiting the Ark on The Commons.

Because of the animals, kids and large crowds at Art in Bloom, people are asked to leave their dogs at home.

Also at The Commons, Annie the Clown presents Fun Town with a jump house, interactive puppet theater and face painting.

In the Kidz Fun Zone on Main Street, kids can plant a free flower for their mothers, courtesy of the Grange Co-op.

Rose says kids can make a half-dozen free crafts to give away for Mother's Day. Crafts in years past have ranged from stepping stones to necklaces.

Chalk artist Jamie Bryn will spend the weekend making a large-scale chalk art piece on Bartlett Street. Visitors to the festival can make their own small chalk designs. Other art activities include a children's art tent.

Life Art/Life Track artists will create graffiti art live on panels as spectators watch in Middleford Alley.

On Central Avenue outside Middleford Yarn & Stitchery Shoppe, ScienceWorks Hands-on Museum will have several exhibits for curious minds.

Calligraphy, spinning, weaving and blown-glass displays will be on Vogel Plaza and in Theater Alley.

Ladies Biz Lane on Main Street will feature indulgent gifts for women, with vendors including Jamberry, Thirty-one, Advocare, Younique, Arbonne, Dove Chocolates and Scentsy.

For those 21 and older, a Pop Up Bar will feature food, music and drink specials in the Banner Bank parking lot at the corner of Main and Bartlett streets.

Performers will take to the stage on The Commons both days. On Saturday, Anne & Friends will play at 10 a.m., Holden Jones at 10:45 a.m., The Fret Drifters at noon, Saucy at 1:30 p.m., Rogue Valley German Band at 3 p.m. and Dance Arts Academy at 4:15 p.m. On Sunday, Bustin' Out will play at 11 a.m., David Pinsky and Phil Newton with the Over the Moon Band at 12:15 p.m., Danielle Kelley Soul Project at 1:30 p.m. and Blowin' Smoke at 2:45 p.m.

A second performance space is on Central Avenue. On Saturday, Scenic Middle School Morning Guitars play at 10:30 a.m., Ballet Folklorico performs at 11 a.m., America's Best Kids dancers and gymnasts perform at noon, Panache Danceat 1 p.m., Ballet Folklorico appears again at 2:30 p.m. and Miss Diana's School of Ballet at 3:30 p.m. On Sunday, the Beau Berry Band plays at 11 a.m., Evergreen Ballroom Dancers at 1 p.m., Inspire Studio Zumba dancersat 2 p.m. and Evergreen Ballroom Dancers return at 3 p.m.

The festival is put on by the nonprofit Art in Bloom organization, which over the years has funded art projects and student awards at Rogue Valley high schools. This year, Art in Bloom is helping to support Logos Public Charter School, Walking Tall youth programs and other arts and entertainment programs. Proceeds from the festival fund future events and local youth art education.

To make a donation, see art-in-bloom.com or mail a check to P.O. Box 5645, Central Point, OR 97502.

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