Hundreds of people flocked to downtown Olympia on Friday night as Arts Walk — the city’s twice-yearly salute to all things artistic — returned for its fall opening.
About 90 storefronts lit up and transformed into art and performance venues for the night, hosting more than 200 painters, sculptors, entertainers and other creative souls. The free festival continues from noon to 5 p.m. Saturday.
“I just love the eclectic mix of people that come down,” said circus artist Jules McEvoy, 33, of Bellingham.
He grew up in Olympia, and has juggled and performed other tricks at Arts Walk for several years.
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“It’s such a great event for all ages,” McEvoy said.
Although a crowd count is not conducted, organizers estimate that about 10,000 people turn out for fall Arts Walk, according to Stephanie Johnson, with the city of Olympia’s Parks, Arts and Recreation Department.
Em Randall, 24, of Olympia, is the manager of the Captain Little toy store. But during Arts Walk, she was one of the toy shop’s featured artists. She had several of her handmade plush toys on display.
“I just love the chance to be able to talk to so many people,” she said. “You get to share your work and hear their stories. It’s just awesome.”
With a festival map in hand, Jill Daniel, 67, and Brianna Gage, 20, both of Olympia, set out early to catch as many venues as possible.
“It’s an opportunity to see all different kinds of artists from all around the city,” Gage said.
“It brings out the happy creativity in people,” Daniel added. “I do believe when you’re looking at all of this art, it’s inspiring.”