Taste the Arts set for Oct. 16

Next Saturday, residents will have a chance to say good-by to the Old Lumberyard during the Arts Consortium’s 11th Annual Taste the Arts festival. That’s because right afterwards, Self-Help Enterprises will take possession and begin building a low-income housing complex on the site. The lumberyard will be no more.

When the Arts Consortium decided to host a big regional arts festival 11 years ago, they named it Taste the Arts (not Taste of the Arts as many people mistakenly call it). The name was chosen to represent the wide variety of crops grown in the Valley as well as to highlight the high level of multi-cultural arts created here.

Taste the Arts offers a full day of free activities for the community. What started out as seven art booths in Garden Street Plaza the first year now incorporates over 100 artist booths, three entertainment stages, live art demonstrations, food trucks and interactive activities all along Garden Street from Garden Street Plaza to the Old Lumberyard.

Artists will show paintings, sculptures, steel work, photographs, gourds, and jewelry. Entertainment on three stages will feature rock, Latin, reggae and dance bands; youth dance groups and DJs.

Interactive activities include:

  • An Instrument Petting Zoo by Grace Note Music where children can try out instruments
  • COS Printworks printing wood block prints for guests
  • The Farmers’ Market doing a Fun with Food Sculpture Challenge
  • Blacksmith demos by Clint Wood
  • Children’s art sessions
  • The Creative Center showing ceramic projects
  • Screening of movie trailers by local filmmakers
  • The Urbanists painting a giant graffiti mural
  • The Enchanted Playhouse performing interactive children’s plays


What’s next at the lumberyard

The Arts Consortium’s video class is making a video of the Old Lumberyard to document its history, starting with Fort Visalia, which was built on the site in 1852 by the early settlers and quickly developed into the town of Visalia.

The lumberyard was built in the early 1900s by William Spalding, which was there for over four decades. Eventually Copeland’s Lumber took over the site in the 1960s and sold it to Keith Brown Building Materials in 2000. In 2010, the City of Visalia bought the site with the idea of redevelopment. For the last four years, they have leased it to the Arts Consortium.

Right after Taste the Arts, the Arts Consortium will relocate to 808 N. Court St. at Lincoln Oval Park and will be there until the low-income housing is completed.

The three-story housing complex, called “The Lofts at Fort Visalia, will feature one-and two-bedroom apartments. It will also house the Arts Consortium and its mental health arts program, My Voice Media.

In addition, it will have four artist lofts where artists can live and create their art, opening up their studios during arts events, such as the Downtown First Friday Art Walk.

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