Lafayette Parks and Recreation hosted the 1st annual “Art in the Park” summer art and music series this year, a free family event held in Lafayette’s historic Columbian Park. Located on the recently fancified Memorial Island in the center of the Columbian Park pond area, Art in the Park features local artists, musicians and food trucks. It’s kind of like a mid-week mini-Mosey (without the drunken shenanigans) but with a focus on the arts and on family entertainment. It’s a great regular Wednesday evening event, one where you can take the kids, get a snack, play on a gorgeous playground, and catch a live music show in one fell swoop.
I asked Parks Coordinator Alex Dewitt what the Parks Department wanted to see when they started this free event. “[We] wanted to bring families together outdoors, inspire creativity in children and build an appreciation for local arts and culture,” she said. Early in the season, the Parks Department decided to clean up the old Memorial Island area, and discovered that under all the old craggy shrubbery were networks of lovely old rock gardens and flower beds. They revived the old gardens with new landscaping, generally cleaning up the island and stage area. It’s a handsome venue today. This was definitely a goal for the Parks team. But most importantly, Dewitt said, “we wanted to provide a safe, beautiful environment for the community to come together” and appreciate the arts.
On a personal note, it was great to see city-sanctioned events held in this public space. Growing up in Lafayette in the 80s, Columbian Park was kind of a dead area in town, but after years of development and imagination, Columbian Park is a clean, vibrant community hub again. Folks wandered in and out of the event area with kids big and small, tapped a foot to music, got some shaved ice from the Kona Ice truck, or a taco from the Lkora truck. On the nights I was there, my family saw a special 1960’s cover set from local cool kids Popular Ego, and on another night, a vibrant and smooth session from Clive Caribe. Folks like artist Stacy Bogan and the sublime crafters from Blue Monday were out selling their wares. Really, it is a stellar way to spend a Wednesday evening over the summer.
Art in the Park’s season finale is happening this week, and the Parks team plans to end the inaugural season with high fives all around, more great bands, and more great art and food vendors. Get out there and support the local arts.
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