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Sculpture of sitting woman from sidewalk art show
Festival's roots are in the sidewalk art show, featuring pieces like this sculpture Courtesy Roanoke Festival in the Park

Roanoke Festival in the Park

This eleven-day citywide spring celebration of culture, creativity and civic pride began in 1969 as a sidewalk art show. Over the years the festival has expanded beyond Elmwood Park to other parks and venues throughout the city.

More than 375,000 residents and visitors participate in festivities, which include three days of bicycle races; a children's parade; concerts in Victory Stadium; laser shows; volleyball and youth soccer tournaments; arts and crafts; and a senior citizens' luncheon. A wild and wacky river "bathtub" race, which permits any thing non-mechanical that floats, attracts 10,000 spectators along the Roanoke River. These "boats" sometimes look more like spaceships or dragons.

Five and 10K runs attract both serious and casual runners. Every style of music is provided, from bluegrass, blues, big band, rock 'n' roll, jazz, to gospel. During the festival, children help compose a large mural out of gumballs. Other events include a Christian celebration night, a gala '60s party, and special touring acts.

The festival is produced by Roanoke Festival in the Park, a private nonprofit organization, comprising a director, two staff members, a volunteer board, and 3,000 other volunteers. Between 1991 and 1999, the festival awarded $55,000 in college scholarships to high school students pursuing any of the arts, whether visual, theater, dance, music, or creative writing.

Documentation includes two park anniversary magazines.

Originally submitted by: John W. Warner,Senator.



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The Local Legacies project provides a "snapshot" of American Culture as it was expressed in spring of 2000. Consequently, it is not being updated with new or revised information with the exception of "Related Website" links.

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