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Church art fest expands
Event will showcase more than 300 artists
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Cumming First UMC arts festival coordinator John Hutchinson looks at paintings before last year’s event.
Artists and art-lovers are excited about an upcoming festival that has more than doubled in size since last year’s inaugural event.

Cumming First United Methodist Church has opened its doors to more than 300 area artists looking to showcase their creations in an environment one participating painter called “a superb, first-class exhibition of art.”

Joycelyn Hairston said she attends many similar events, but the church’s weeklong Festival of Arts, which includes visual art, music and cinema, is “in my top five.”

Hairston is one of more than 300 artists whose art will be on display from Saturday through April 26.

Exhibits will be open from noon to 8 p.m. daily at the church, 770 Canton Highway. Admission is free.

Event coordinator John Hutchinson said the festival “has certainly grown a lot” in its second year.

While last year’s event featured 30 professional artists, this year’s has 140. Student and preschool artist numbers grew as well.

“Artists are telling me they found last year’s show to be of such a high caliber that they wanted to participate again,” said Hutchinson, who is also the church’s director of music worship and arts. “They spread the word amongst their friends that this was a show not to be missed.”

For those with an ear for art, Hutchinson said guests won’t be disappointed in the event’s musical performances.

Robert MacDonald, former Radio City Music Hall organist, performs at 8 p.m. April 22 for a night of silent movies and sing-a-longs and then again at noon April 24.

The David Brothers Jazz Combo plays at noon April 20, and the Chamber Music Atlanta String Trio performs at noon April 24. Noon events will be followed by a light lunch, which costs $5.

All events are free, except for the lunches and the festival’s final Broadway concert event at 7:30 p.m. April 25, which is $15 for students and $20 for adults.

“The concerts are truly by world-renown professionals,” Hutchinson said. “It’s a great opportunity to get to see them.”

Hutchinson said he hopes the Festival of Arts will be an ongoing event “that will continue to grow each year.”

“It’s probably the largest collection of art in the county you can see the entire year,” Hutchinson said. “That in itself is a big draw.”