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Eye-popping umbrellas will be part of Lakefest in Columbia this weekend

Any bad luck from opening an umbrella inside was cast aside as Liz Henzey, director of Columbia Art Center, popped open not one, but four umbrellas to show off their unique designs in the center’s lobby.

Featuring seeing eyes, swirling spirits, swimming swans and sunflowers, the umbrellas are part of the center’s Umbrella Theme Exhibition, “Healing Hearts Through Music, Dance, Words.” And while Henzey opened the umbrellas in the Columbia Art Center, the exhibit of 38 umbrellas will “open” on Lake Kittamaqundi on Friday as part of 2022 Lakefest.

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“We partnered with the Columbia Festival of the Arts to do this,” Henzey said. “They [the umbrellas] will be along the boardwalk and you can walk by all of them.”

After a two-year break due to the pandemic, Lakefest is back in-person starting Friday for a three-day weekend of events featuring food, live entertainment and art, including the umbrella show, all for free.

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“It was important to come back in a big way after a two-year hiatus,” said Robert Neal Marshall, executive director of the Columbia Festival of the Arts. “It’s exciting to bring this to everyone. Summer starts here.”

Since its beginnings, the festival, now in its 35th year, has been known as a “multidisciplinary arts festival,” according to Dave Simmons, director of programming for Columbia Festival of the Arts.

“We don’t just do music or food,” Simmons said. “We have a lot going on.”

Various musical acts and performers are scheduled throughout all three days, including the headliner, Sway, an Australian circus and dance act, that will perform its new show “Bloom.”

“‘Bloom’ is about the process of coming to life and blooming,” Simmons said. “It is beautifully performed and for all ages.”

While musical acts from around the world are scheduled to perform Friday and Saturday, local school groups — including Wilde Lake High School’s steel drum band, Mount Hebron High School’s Jazz Ensemble and Glenelg Jazz Ensemble — will take the stage on Sunday.

“Kids have been doing virtual learning and concerts,” Simmons said. “Students get to come out here and perform in a professional production.”

Two dragons, 30-foot-long and 20-foot-high Hendrik, and 10-foot-long and 6-foot-tall Leonora, also will be on display at the festival, courtesy of ManneqART a nonprofit based in Columbia that creates art on the human form. The nonprofit also will host activities throughout the weekend and KidzArt, an art school, will provide art activities for children, too.

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People can help Pinot’s Palette, a paint and sip studio, paint images of the festival for a future exhibit at the Turf Valley studio. A juried arts and craft show featuring more than 40 artists will take place all weekend, and new this year is the Monster Mural, a life-size coloring wall that all ages can color with provided washable markers.

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“We bring the community together,” said Simmons, noting that the Columbia Art Center’s umbrella show was “community driven art” as anyone could participate in the exhibit.

“It is really cool to see what local artists contributed,” Simmons said.

“Artists in the area, organizations, children, families, all were inspired,” Henzey said. “Many never used an umbrella for a canvas.”

Participants received an umbrella from the Columbia Art Center and were provided information about what type of paints — weather-resistant — to use. How artists interpreted the theme and what other materials they used was left to them to decide.

“Some are painted, others used mixed media like pom-poms, pipe cleaners,” Henzey said.

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In 2013, the center hosted a similar umbrella show for a different festival, Henzey said. She was thrilled to get 38 entries for this year’s exhibit and is already planning to host it again for next year’s Lakefest.

The 35th Columbia Festival of the Arts Lakefest Weekend takes place Friday through Sunday at Downtown Columbia Lakefront.


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