An impressive selection of family friendly attractions, opportunities for outdoor recreation, and unique cultural sites have made Charleston a top travel destination in West Virginia. The city is home to more than 50 buildings on The National Register of Historic Places including an entire historic neighborhood covering a square mile within the city’s East End. With plenty to do and see including the Kanawha State Forest, Charleston Town Center, and Clay Center for Arts and Scientists, the city is more than ready for your next visit.
June FestivALL is one of the largest celebrations in West Virginia (attracting more than 50,000 people last year) and will take place June 16-25, at venues across Charleston. It's the state's ultimate expression of art including more than 60 art and community organizations. Hundreds of individual artists will also participate and demonstrate their skills in art, theater, dance, music, and more. The FestivALL produces and hosts popular annual events such as The Mayor’s Concert, The Capitol Street Art Fair, Children's Art Fair, and Library Street Fair. It also hosts non-art events like Smoke on the Water Chili Cook-Off, Dance, Blues Brews & BBQ, Wine & All That Jazz, and riverboat rides. FestivALL has a massive effect on the community, generating more than $1.5 million for local businesses, uniting the local artisan scene, and helping to promote a city-wide focus on the arts. We got the chance to interview Brittany Javins, Director of the event, to learn more about this massive family-friendly celebration.
RAL: How long has the event been running?
BJ: What started as a three-day weekend festival in 2005 has grown into year-round programming and events. FestivALL is a 501(c)(3) organization working to fulfill the mission of serving as a catalyst in creating vibrant arts and entertainment opportunities in our community.
RAL: How many annual participants do you draw?
BJ: FestivALL draws over 50,000 attendees across all of its events each year.
RAL: What demographic does your event attract? Children? Families? Couples?
BJ: FestivALL features a range of art experiences in music, theater, dance, visual arts, family fun, and more. Because of this, FestivALL attracts a broad audience in both age and lifestyles. Whether it’s a free alternative concert at Haddad Riverfront Park or taking in the Dance Gala, there are a variety of experiences that you can find to meet your interests.
RAL: Take me through the Activities of a day at the event.
BJ: Every day is different at FestivALL, but one of my personal favorites is the first Saturday of our June event. Grab a coffee and homemade scone at Taylor Books café, then find your spot to take in the FestivALL Art Parade which makes its way up Capitol Street. The parade ends with music and festivities at our local Capitol Market. After that, head on down to the Smoke on the Water Chili Cookoff for lunch and live music performances that are as hot as the chili! Take a break in your hotel after or if you’re anxious to keep moving, take in one of several smaller performances and galleries in the afternoon. In the evening, you can dine at one of our many outdoor patio restaurants in downtown Charleston. This is just one of the ten days at FestivALL, and every day has its unique offerings.
RAL: Will there be any guest appearances?
BJ: This year’s FestivALL will feature several national touring artists in addition to many local and regional performances and exhibitions. Enjoy Robert Randolph and the Family Band at the
Mayor’s Concert (June 22) or the nationally touring visual art and theatrical spectacle Air Play (June 17). Taylor 2 of Paul Taylor Dance Company will headline the Dance Gala (June 21),
and Delfeayo Marsalis will perform at Wine & All That Jazz (June 23).
RAL: What is the environment like?
BJ: In the middle of June, Charleston enjoys an excellent summer climate. Charleston is a walkable city, and there is no better time to take advantage of that than during FestivALL. The riverboat cruises attract festival-goers down to the scenic waterfront, which boasts a great recreational boat community.
RAL: What does the event mean to the community?
BJ: FestivALL has become a significant part of Charleston’s identity and was key in revitalizing the arts in our community. No doubt Charleston has been rich with artists and arts organizations for decades, but by working in collaboration with these artists and organizations and showcasing them all together at once, FestivALL puts Charleston on the map as an arts and entertainment destination.
RAL: Does this drive business to your local economy?
BJ: The event serves as a major tourist attraction each year and has acted as a catalyst for other events and entertainment opportunities throughout the year. Between hotel stays and self- reported expenditures, FestivALL is estimated to have at least a $1.5 million impact annually. Also, a part of FestivALL’s values is to pay artists for the work they do. This has had an impact on our city and has created a culture that values the work of artists as an important part of our local economy.
RAL: Why should people come to your event?
BJ: FestivALL is truly immersion travel. First-timers call it “transformational” and each year there are new ways to experience the arts. Attendees may come for the fun and exciting big acts, but it’s the small, Charlestonian experiences that keep them coming back for more.
For more information about June FestivALL, please visit the event website.