Events come together in Columbus

Visitors to downtown Columbus found a confluence of events Saturday spanning a wide range of interests.

The day’s activities began in Mill Race Park at 10 a.m., where participants in the seventh running of the Firecracker 5K race started on their path to Saturday’s third annual MainSource Bank BBQ Blues and Brew at Fourth and Washington streets.

And while runners were taking off, artists were settling in at the seventh annual ArtFest, also at Mill Race Park, where about 75 vendors were displaying their wares for potential buyers — including paintings, photography, jewelry and a host of other artistic media.

Tents filling the park displayed imaginative, original pieces of art and served the dual purpose of offering shoppers respite from temperatures that hovered in the mid-80s — T-shirt and shorts weather.

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Many festival-goers also brought hats and sunglasses to keep eyes shielded, enhancing the warm-weather activities.

BBQ Blues and Brew opened at noon with a free-admission party featuring 16 barbecue pit masters, 20 local and regional craft beers on tap, live music on stage all day and a kids play area. While face-painting artists added dashes of color, the smiles on young faces enjoying the afternoon came naturally.

An estimated 6,500 people attended BBQ Blues and Brew last year, with organizers expecting that this year’s boost in activities would also bring more festival-goers downtown.

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ArtFest returns for a second day today, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Where: Mill Race Park on Fifth Street in downtown Columbus. About 75 vendors will be displaying painting, photography, jewelry, and a host of other artistic media.

Plein Art Paintout: Participating artists have been painting scenes of Columbus the past two days, with the work judged starting at 10 a.m. today. Paintings will be for sale from noon to 4 p.m. today.

Admission: Free.

Concessions: Snack foods and drinks.