Art Reach hoping to raise student involvement for annual Festival of Banners

Limited Central Michigan University student involvement in the Festival of Banners hasn't stopped Art Reach of Mid Michigan from working to expand the annual community event.

Perry senior Sarah Dysinger, who is doing an internship at Art Reach for her commercial recreation major, said the event's main focus for the upcoming year is getting more students involved.

"CMU is a large part of our community and this is a big event," Dysinger said. "I just don't think students have caught on yet."

Art Reach will be hosting the 8th annual banner festival where students and community members can come paint banners to hang on light polls in multiple cities in Mid Michigan. This year's theme is called "Home is Where the Art is."

Participants can pick up a template from Art Reach, 111 E. Broadway St., where they can draw any design that fits within the template's margins. Art Reach then traces these designs and puts them on a banner that can be painted.

The banner entry deadline is Feb. 14.

Kathy Hill, the non-profit's owner, said the participation has been growing, with 99 banner entries in 2005 and more than 400 banners in 2012. This increased involvement has forced them to allow a maximum amount of only 333 entries in the upcoming festival.

"After we got that many banners, we realized we couldn't keep up," Hill said.

Although the involvement for the event is growing, of the approximately 350 participants last year, only a small number of them were CMU students.

"If I had to guess, we only had about 20 students who volunteered and painted," Hill said.

For a $25 entry fee, students can showcase their artwork while improving the aesthetics of Mount Pleasant. This entry fee includes a personalized banner and painting supplies that can be used during "paint days," which begin in early March.

Completed banners will be hung at the start of the summer and will be taken down in September. Although Mount Pleasant receives the most banners, others are hung in Sheppard and throughout Union Township.


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