APRIL 2021

Redbud Festival will showcase NOTO in bloom

By Corbin Crable

As temperatures warm up and the sun comes out, lace up your walking shoes and get ready to immerse yourself in a fun-filled weekend in the NOTO Arts and Entertain-ment District in Topeka, KS. The month of April will keep art lovers busy with events both old and new.

The NOTO Arts and Entertainment District’s Redbud Park. (photo courtesy of WIBW)

For starters, the district will host its first-ever Redbud Festival on April 2-3 in Redbud Park, a recent addition to the area. The festival will include live entertainment and food vendors, and it will act as a way to introduce local residents to the beauty of the park itself as spring begins. Attendees can browse and enjoy the murals that adorn the district spaces, including 20 new murals that were recently installed. In addition, attendees are encouraged to shop and dine at the merchants and restaurants throughout the district.

Staci Ogle, NOTO program and communications director, says the idea for the festival came from the park.

“In 2019 we finished the construction of Redbud Park, which included redbud trees scattered throughout the beautiful art park,” Ogle explains. “The first year of the festival was planned for 2020, and while some programming did happen despite the pandemic, this year is the first official year for the festival in the park.”

Residents and NOTO patrons enjoyed the redbud trees so much, Ogle says, that more trees were planted last year – 35, to be exact, with the assistance of a local Eagle Scout. She hopes that as the trees grow, so too will the event.  

“Ideally, we would like to see the Redbud Festival grow alongside the trees, every year getting bigger and more beautiful,” Ogle says. “Since the park is the largest open space in the district, and right at the entrance, it makes it the perfect space to greet visitors, show off vendors, and host entertainment. It’s exciting to get to unveil the space the public.”

The festival will kick off from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Friday, April 2, with a familiar event to NOTO patrons and supporters – the First Friday Art Walk, in which those in attendance can enjoy a stroll through the district and watch artists at work, learn about the murals that adorn the interior and exterior of buildings in the district, listen to live music, and get creative inspiration for their next project, big or small. The art walk takes place throughout the evening, and The Danny Williams Band will provide live music.

Ogle says the art walk will be a wonderful opportunity for attendees to not only enjoy the trees, but also the numerous art installations of which the event organizers are proud.

“Besides the trees, the district is also home to several murals and sculptures,” Ogle says. “We recently implemented a rotating sculpture program, adding four new  sculptures to the district, adding to the many already in place. The district will continue rotating the four sculptures in and out every year, featuring local, regional, and national sculptors. Besides the Redbud park, the NOTO district has the Breezeway Park that is full of interactive outdoor art and activities, sculptures and a mural.”

On Saturday, April 3, the fun continues with the first-ever Saturday Market. The festival kicks off the event in which local vendors sell art work, crafts, antiques and handmade wares; Ogle says markets will be available on the first and third Saturday of each month, from April through September. The next Saturday Market, then, will take place April 17.
“Despite all the exciting events in the district already, this year marks the very beginning of the NOTO Saturday Markets,” Ogle says. “The first and third Saturday of April through September, the district will be filled with local and regional vendors. People are already buzzing about what all is going to be offered. Over half of the vendor spots have been reserved for both the spring and summer sessions. It’ll be great to see the variety over both sessions. (We) promise that if you miss one session, you won’t want to miss the other. We expect this event will become a community favorite and will continue to bring people out for years to come.”

Vendor booths for the sale will be set up from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., both in the Redbud Park and in the Teeter Courtyard of the NOTO Arts Center. Ogle says she is excited to showcase the Redbud Festival and the NOTO district itself to local residents and visitors alike.

“The hope for the Redbud festival is to show off the  NOTO district and artists to not only the Topeka community, but to anyone visiting the city,” she says. “We want to give people unforgettable experiences and invite them  back even after the festival is over. It’s a great chance for people to appreciate art and artists, and the vibrant, growing arts district that is NOTO.”

For more information, visit www.explorenoto.org.

Corbin Crable can be contacted at editor@discoverypub.com