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Art lovers, there is a reason to amble on over to Riverside Park on Labor Day Weekend: the 26th Annual Sioux City Art Center's ArtSplash festival.

It seems like just yesterday when a 7-year-old Ari went to the festival (originally centered around the Anderson Dance Pavilion on the Missouri River) for the first time with his parents, taking in the sights, sounds and smells of the day...watching the elaborate sand sculptures being formed and subsequently being sprayed down with water to make the forms hold.

Art Center Development Coordinator Erin Webber-Dreeszen raises money for the Art Center. Artsplash is her biggest money maker and she is in her eighth year heading the festival. Before she joined ArtSplash, the festival had to move from the Missouri riverfront to Grandview Park due to flooding. When Webber-Dreeszen became involved, organizers had to move the festival from Grandview to Riverside Park, where it has resideed in recent years.

"When we have needed to change, we've been able to do that," said Webber-Dreeszen referencing the location changes. "We haven't been so stuck in our ways that when a challenge presents itself, we don't just fold. Riverside Park has been a nice place for us over the past six years. Maintaining the ability to change with the times and listen to feedback from festival-goers lets us know what we should be going for in the future. What do the next 25 years look like? How do we get to year 50?"

ArtSplash this year is playing host to 79 artists, all touting their wares throughout Riverside Park on Labor Day weekend. There will be a multitude of mediums on display for perusal and purchase. The mediums on display include watercolors, oil paintings, acrylic paintings, alcohol ink paintings, ceramics, glass, jewelry, fabric, sculpture, wood, print-making and more.

"We are really impressed by the quality of work we showcase," said the organizer. "We have three jurors that go through the submissions to see who we should invite to display their wares. Those jurors then come back to the festival to decide which artists should be given prizes at the festival. The categories for prizes are 'Best in Show,' 'Best 2-D' and 'Best 3-D.' We also do awards of excellence. Those are all cash prizes that we give to the festival artists. It is an honor to be considered an exhibiting artist at Artsplash."

The Splash Artists this year include Ryan Gilbert and his big wooden tables and former Weekender Artist Spotlight feature holder, Jessica Hammond with her pour paintings. 

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"Those artists apply and go through a whole process," said Webber-Dreeszen. "They have to go through how they are going to set up their booths, how to price their artwork and how to set up a pleasing display. We walk them through that because they have never participated in a festival before. We prepare them for doing the festival circuit if they want to after that."

 There will be activities for children of all ages. These activities include a Kid's Art Zone, a Fun Zone, a Children's Stage, inflatables and bungees. Some activities will be more intense for children with large attention spans, and other activities will be geared toward children that want to mess around with something for a couple minutes, then move on to something else. Woodhouse is even donating a car to get painted by children at the festival.

Other entertainment options include a henna artist from Omaha, doing henna style tattoos, and a stilt walker. There will be performances by Lil Red & The Medicated Moose Band, Adam Girard, Angie Lambrecht, The Ruralists, Jared the Incredible and Paul Imholte.

But that isn't all...there also will be food trucks.

"You could eat yourself to death at this festival," said Webber-Dreeszen. "We've got 12 or 13 food vendors including a coffee vendor, fruit kabobs that are dipped in chocolate, gyros, giant corn dogs, turkey drumsticks...anything that screams fair food, you've got it at this festival. Everybody always talks about the German roasted almond lady, so of course she'll be back (all you have to do is follow your nose). It's a really wonderful food year this year."

For many Siouxlanders, ArtSplash is a reason to stay in Sioux City over the holiday.

"ArSplash is really a Labor Day tradition," said the organizer. "We've really established ourselves in our community as something that is healthy for families to do together. It is over the course of two days, so you can come one day and see some of it, then come the next day to see the rest. You don't have to kill yourself over one day. The wristband for people 12 years old and older is $5 and the wristband for 11 and younger is free. We keep it very affordable for families to do. A festival like this is really important because it feeds your soul."

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