Artscape finale draws crowd despite rain


Rain brought out some umbrellas, but it didn't seem to bring down the spirits of thousands of people celebrating the last day of Artscape.

The arts festival featured food, arts and crafts displays and free entertainment -- including a concert finale by the rhythm-and-blues group, Ashford and Simpson.

People were lured by sidewalk performances of African music and dance; The Flying Tongues, a group that performs comedy singing routines; and Jerry Brown and his monkey, Django, who rests on his shoulder.

It's just a wonderful event. It's always a lot of fun," said Jackie Smith, attending Artscape for the second time. She said she especially enjoyed the sculptures, but "I just wish I could afford some of it."

Even those working in exhibit booths were enjoying the festivities.

"I just love it, that's why I keep coming back," said Frances Sparrow, a volunteer with the American Legion Post 109 who was selling beer at the group's fund-raiser booth.

Artscape spokeswoman Jane Vallery-Davis said attendance could break last year's estimated turnout of 1.2 million people.

She said police aerial surveys help estimate the number of people at the festival -- about 120,000 at Friday's opening concert featuring Aretha Franklin.

Police reported no serious problems yesterday.

"We have a pretty laid-back crowd," the Artscape spokeswoman said.

"It's one of the nicest events because it just has a lovely mix of people who come out to enjoy the city," she added.

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