Artists will be setting up their easels around the Castle Country landscape on Thursday as the Helper Arts and Music Festival's plein air competition gets under way. En plein air is a French phrase meaning "in the open air," and the competition will give the artists just two days to complete an original painting of an outdoor scene.
Whoever wins the competition will take home a $1,000 first prize. The exhibit will open at 10 a.m. Saturday at 80 S. Main St., with an awards reception at 6 p.m.
The plein air competition is a favorite of Kathleen Royster, who with Stacey Armstrong is a co-director of this year's festival. But Royster is quick to point out that there is going to be non-stop activity on Main Street from Thursday night through Sunday afternoon.
It begins Thursday at 5 p.m. with an awards ceremony for the Youth Art Exhibition in Civic Auditorium and continues with a return of the BYU Ballroom Dancers at 6 p.m. They will also perform in the auditorium.
Down the street at the Rio Theatre there will be a stage performance of Alfred Hitchcock's "The 39 Steps at 8 p.m., with repeat performances on Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and a Sunday matineee at 2 p.m.
On Friday and Saturday at 2 p.m. at the Rio, the OtherSide Players will present a reading of "Incompatible with Life," a play by Bianca Dumas.
Something new this year will be a Sculpture Slap, giving visitors an opportunity to watch sculptures create their works outdoors. Royster said they will be working under a 25 x 40 foot canopy in front of the Balance Rock Eatery. A stone sculptor is expected to be there, along with others working in clay. There is a $1,000 first prize in this competition.
There's another $1,000 awaiting the artist who wins at the Art Salon. The salon, which opens at 3 p.m. Friday and runs through Sunday at 3 p.m. at 76 S. Main, is a revival of a tradition that began in the 18th Century, where paintings were exhibited floor-to-ceiling for viewing and judging.
While all this is going on, there will be live music on stage. The concert runs from 5 to 11:30 p.m. on Friday, noon to 11:30 p.m. Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. Jinni Fontana-Lund has orchestrated a collection of performers and music styles, including country, blue grass, Irish and the Salt Lake Men's Choir.
As always, there will be vendors along Main Street, along with a children's art yard.