In its 40th year, the spring Tempe Festival of the Arts will highlight different forms of artistic expression from March 31 to April 2.

Approximately 340 visual artists from around the country, including painters, jewelers, wood and metal workers, clothing designers, photographers and sculptors will showcase and sell their artwork at the prestigious festival.

Kate Borders, executive director for the Downtown Tempe Authority which holds the Tempe Festival of the Arts twice a year, said the spring edition of the festival attracts a different type of crowd than the fall version.

“In the spring, people are shopping more for themselves, so you see a little bit more high-end work, more things for homes,” Borders said.

Hannie Goldgewicht, a California-based ceramicist originally from Costa Rica, will serve as the featured artist of the spring festival.

Getting hands-on

During the event, art patrons will have an opportunity to talk with the artists one-on-one at their booths and in some areas of the festival have more hands-on experiences with art.

“I think it’s great for people to connect with what’s happening and understand that isn’t so far outside of their comfort zone. Fine art is approachable,” Borders said.  “The minute that you really understand how something works and what a process is like, it becomes more interesting and intriguing to you.”

The festival has recently begun to provide more of a glimpse into the artistic process. During the spring edition, festival goers can watch glass-blowing demos at the intersection of Seventh Street and Mill Avenue.

Beer and wine gardens will return to the festival with offerings of different wines and craft beers. As part of a special Arizona Wine Tasting experience at the Centerpoint Beer and Wine Garden, festivalgoers can sample wines from eight Arizona wineries. The special tasting costs $15 to $20 for six tickets and $20 to $25 for 10 tasting tickets.

A new addition last fall, the Sixth + Mill Makers area on Sixth Avenue will return and continue to showcase locally-made Tempe products.

Chalking up the street

In the Chalk-A-Lot Street area on Fourth Street, attendees can watch professional and student chalk artists create intricate murals and try chalk art themselves. For $5, festival goers receive a box of chalk and their own personal square.

An interactive children’s area on Maple Street will have hands-on activities for young people and a juried youth art exhibition with works from K-12 students from different parts of the Valley.

On all three days of the festival, local rock, R&B, blues, pop, jazz and bluegrass bands and musicians will perform on the Fifth Street, Centerpoint and Hayden Square stages.

During the Festival after Dark segment from 6 to 8:30 p.m. on Saturday, Banana Gun, an alternative jazz/blues group out of Phoenix, will engage audiences at the Hayden Square Stage.

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Details: 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Friday-Sunday, March 31-April 2. Downtown Tempe, along Mill Avenue and side streets, between Rio Salado and University. Free.

If you are looking to experience arts and culture in an immersive way, consider one of these local festivals in your neighborhood.

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