Waco’s outdoor fests feature art on the seat, street


Art takes to the streets and the seats this weekend with the debut of the Couch Potato Festival in downtown Waco and the return of return of Art on Elm on the other side of the Brazos.

Seemingly sedentary from its title, the Couch Potato Festival will make a city block busy with activity Saturday and Sunday with art, food, live music and vendors.

Lori Davidson, owner of LuluBelle’s market and the Waco Trolley, came up with the idea as a way to give artists and downtown vendors some exposure after last year’s successful Chalk Waco festival. Some of the organizers of last year’s art event chose to focus their energies this spring on establishing the new Levitt AMP Music Series and funding wasn’t as available, Davidson said.

A casual dinner conversation about what could replace the chalk event reminded Davidson how popular couches had been at other festivals and markets she had organized: people sat on them, congregated around them, took pictures. Davidson also had taken advantage of a hotel chain’s sale of slightly used, older furniture, buying sofas, ottomans and love seats which she put into storage.

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Talk then drifted to downtown’s standing market on Saturdays, the Waco Downtown Farmers Market, which made vegetables pop to mind, then “Couch and Potatoes Festival,” Davidson said, who added she kept the idea, but has shortened the title for simplicity.

The result, this weekend’s Couch Potato Festival, will take place this weekend in the downtown space used by the Saturday farmers market. It uses the couches and loveseats in storage as artists’ canvases, with local artists painting and stenciling designs on them. Some 30 couches will be on display this weekend, sporting images and patterns as wide-ranging as lemons, an octopus, flowers and an early Mario video game.

The artistically reimagined sofas will be on sale, with the artists and Creative Waco’s ArtPrenticeship youth program sharing in the proceeds. Local musicians such as the Waco Ukelele Orchestra, Eric Huggins, Lee VanWagner, Doc MoJoe and Alexander Wild performing over the two days.

Some 70 vendors will show their wares, many of which are handcrafted, with some farmers market vendors choosing to remain after the market closes and new vendors filling vacated spaces. On Sunday, a new round of vendors will populate the lot. Both days will feature food trucks, children’s activities and a pop-up skating rink by Skate World Waco, Davidson said.

Those attending the festival can vote for their favorite couch and the top three finishers in the “Hot Potato” contest will split $1,000.

Festival hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday with free admission.

Art on Elm

Artists also will have their creations on display at Saturday’s Art on Elm festival. Ongoing construction on Elm Avenue will constrain this year’s edition of the annual arts event, said Doreen Ravencroft, a festival organizer and Cultural Arts of Waco director. “It’ll be about half or a quarter of what we normally do,” she said.

Brotherwell Brewing, 400 E. Bridge St., will display art from 10 participating artists with activities and more art in tents erected in the green space around near 418 Elm Ave., the location of last fall’s Dia de los Muertos public ofrenda.

Activities will include T-shirt printing, kite flying and a children’s ninja course.

The festival will run from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and those attending the festival can walk a short distance to Bridge Street Plaza for Saturday night’s Levitt AMP Music Series, which begins at 6 p.m. with Sean Anderson & Friends and The Union Revival the evening’s headliners.

A “Splash on the Color” preview party, an annual fundraiser for the Waco Cultural Arts Fest, will take place at 6:30 p.m. Friday at Brotherwell Brewing. Admission is $25.

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