- Associated Press - Friday, May 16, 2014

EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) - As the East Lansing Art Festival begins its second half-century, it has a new director and a “selfie” contest to amuse teenagers.

The much-anticipated annual event celebrates its 51st year in downtown East Lansing on Saturday and Sunday, according to the Lansing State Journal ( http://on.lsj.com/RAqqIn ). More than 180 artists using many different media will welcome crowds regularly estimated at 70,000 over the two-day span.

Michelle Carlson has succeeded Corinn VanWyck as the festival’s director. Carlson comes to her new post from managing the East Lansing Farmers’ Market.

Nearly half the exhibitors are from Michigan, while others come from many parts of the U.S. and Canada, Carlson said

Visitors will find everything from ceramics to paintings, mixed media, drawings, fiber art, glass, jewelry, leather, metal, sculpture, wood and photography.

Among the artists, 32 are back by invitation - those who have received awards at one or more of the past three festivals - 112 returning artists, 32 new artists and seven emerging artists.

Need something to occupy your teen-ager? Teens ages 13-18 are invited to participate in the ELAF’s first Selfie Scavenger Hunt for a chance to win prizes. Teens interested in participating can sign up at the ELAF Information Booth during the festival, where they will receive instructions.

Carlson said participants will have to go around the festival and complete various actions, like snapping a self-portrait photo with a specific artist. The idea, not surprisingly, came in part from her teen-aged children.

“As they get older, they come to the festival with their friends, and they walk around with their friends,” Carlson continued. “I wanted to do an art activity geared toward them, and I have teen-aged kids. They said, ‘Mom, that’s a great idea!’”

The art of music is a key part of the festival, and an outdoor music stage in the north parking lot of East Lansing City Hall will feature a lineup of talented musicians.

The Ragbirds will headline from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. Saturday, and Jump Up Devil will have center stage from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m. Sunday.

Other 2014 ELAF performers will include The Appleseed Collective, Rachael and Joshua Davis, The Whiskey Pickers, Wisaal, The People’s Temple, The Further Adventures of FatBoy and JiveTurkey and the East Lansing High School Jazz Band. Visit www.elartfest.com/performers to view the ELAF live music schedule.

The Main Stage area will also have a first-ever sponsors’ tent, where festival supporters can pull up a chair, get a bite to eat and relax. Double Platinum Palette Sponsors include McLaren Greater Lansing, Jackson National Life and the East Lansing Marriott at University Place.

The children’s area will feature fun activities for all ages, from toddlers to teens, offered by Impression 5 Science Center, Reach Studio Art Center, WKAR, the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum and more.

The Matt Epling Creative Arts Competition will return to the children’s activities area, featuring artwork by local middle school students.

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