Monday, September 29, 2008

Downtown Asheville
Sunday, September 7th

Co-written by Torva Logan, Erin Scholze, and Jay Sanders

In the wee hours of the morning on the first Sunday of September, trucks and cars are bustling in and out of Lexington Avenue dropping off funky painted signs, fabulous wares and fresh food. The activity goes virtually unnoticed until it's time to open the gates and invite the crowds into Asheville's largest independent street festival: the Lexington Avenue Arts and Fun Festival (LAAFF).

Now in its seventh year, LAAFF's three stages, two courtyards, and city streets will play host to the biggest bands, dancers, and performers Asheville has to offer; even the sponsors are all local. Lexington Avenue will overflow with tons of interactive art stations and teem with local artists demonstrating their inimitable talents. This is a day that everyone can feel free to dress in costume, dance, celebrate Asheville's true colors.

By 11 AM, when the first performers take the stage, eager masses will flood the streets dressed in their funkiest attire. This is a day of all-local entertainment, shopping, food, and drinks, showcasing why Asheville has long been considered the Freak capitol of Western North Carolina. You can paint an art car, build a giant squid out of recycled material, hula hoop, weave baskets, dip your feet in paint and dance on a canvas, parade, get a henna tattoo, sew your own art clothes at the Honey Pot, make puppets, experience live painting, tour the fabulous Emerge-and-See Art Ambulance and Gallery or learn how to spin fire, dance, and drum.

There will be a "Get Your Freak On" photo booth, located in Bobo Gallery located at 22 Lexington Ave., where you can try on tons of freaky fun costumes donated by the wonderful Costume Shoppe. Jen Bowen, Director of the Faces of Asheville Portrait Documentary, will snap your shot, and within minutes you'll have the best fun and freaky memento ever! All monies raised will go to the final completion of the Faces of Asheville Portrait Documentary Project. This project will also host community forums throughout the year to discuss diversity, artist resources, green living, the local economy, and more in Asheville.

Local Graffiti Artists will be performing live painting between 1-4pm on the I-240 overpass support columns to celebrate the conclusion of the first quarter of The Asheville Mural Project. This expansive mural portrays original images of local characters and uniquely Asheville scenes focusing on Sustainability, Arts and Culture, Community, and Asheville Saints. AMP is adding value to the community with the support of the City of Asheville. Team members consist of 5 local artists and several auxiliary painters. Much of the proceeds from LAAFF's past have been directed toward AMP.

Be sure to see Asheville's own Tall Bike Freak, Michael Mooney, attempt to set a world record by riding the World's Tallest Bike, mountable only by crane! This is one show during LAAFF that you will just not want to miss. Michael is ready for a second attempt at the Guinness world record for riding the world's tallest bike (over 43 feet!) for 100 meters. The preshow to the Tall Bike Experience is the Bicycle Circus, commandeered by Ringmaster Bill Glasscock and set to Circus Music played through a giant Gramophone. Featured performances will also include Clown skits, Blue Ridge Rollergirl action, BMX fun, unicyclists and jugglers.

LAAFF is a festival where the music never stops, and the music at LAAFF is all local and all original. Every year, LAAFF's lineup changes, but always represents the musical diversity that makes Asheville's music scene great. This year there are over fifty performance acts including Josh Phillips Folk Festival, Snake Oil Medicine Show, Shannon Whitworth, the Asheville Horns, Jar-E, the Firecracker Jazz Band, The Plowshares, the Hunab Kru B-boys, and Secret Agent 23 Skidoo. Old-time and bluegrass pickers are invited to join in The Shady Grove Courtyard Jam from 1-6pm. If your taste tends more towards the electronic scene, head for the Freaky Tiki DJ Lounge in the old Vincent's Ear Courtyard to hear some tribal rhythms, house, funk, soul. Performer merchandise will be sold at Static Age Records, located at 82-A N. Lexington Ave, and all proceeds will go directly to the performers.

While you will be able to purchase a great CD, this is one festival where you will not be able to buy a bottle of water. Free water is what LAAFF is all about. There will be three stations set up where you can fill up your own reusable water bottle or compostable cup; no more wasted plastic! You can support the festival, and the environment by purchasing a LAAFF reusable water bottle or souvenir beer mug. All compostable items will be carted away to the Long Branch Environmental Education Center.

Sustained by widespread community support, LAAFF is a volunteer driven event that serves as a celebration of Asheville's unique personality and as a fundraiser for Arts 2 People, a non-profit organization devoted to promoting the role of the arts as an integral part of our culture. Arts 2 People serves the entire community through arts outreach, bringing the arts to those in need, supporting the careers of artists, and through community cultural development. Projects of Arts 2 People include The Pritchard Park Cultural Arts Program, The REACH Educational series, Moving Women, The Asheville Mural Project, Faces of Asheville and more. These projects support Asheville's thriving eclectic cultural values and all will have representation at LAAFF.

The Lexington Ave Arts and Fun Festival is chock-full of exciting activities until 10 PM. Come dressed in your wildest clothes, or as you are. LAAFF is free and fun for everyone. Sunday, September 7th; 11 AM – 10 PM; Lexington Avenue in downtown Asheville, NC. Come join in the festivities! For more information visit and

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