Local artists are painting the town to kick off the first ever Spring into the Arts Festival. Nine local artists are displaying their work in the windows of downtown Newton businesses and competing for people’s choice. Displays and voting will begin on Thursday, March 20, and continue until Thursday, April 17.

The big reveal is scheduled in conjunction with Third Thursday events from 6 to 8 p.m. March 20. The artists will be available for comment at that time. The public is encouraged to vote using paper ballots available downtown or online. The evening also will include the opening of a pop-up gallery of student art work at 615 and 617 N. Main.

“This festival is an opportunity for the entire community to get excited about the arts,” festival coordinator Megan Upton-Tyner said. “That includes reaching out to the next generation and letting them show off what they can do and also showing them what they can do in the future.”

After the March 20 kick off, the festival will gain momentum with community theatre performances and a concert by the Soweto Gospel Choir the weekend of March 28. The “Spring into the Arts” festival will continue with events every weekend throughout the month of April.

The festival was made possible by a grant from the Kansas Creative Arts Industries Commission and will include concerts and events from 10 arts organizations: Hesston-Bethel Performing Arts, Bethel College Academy of Performing Arts, Newton Mid-Kansas Symphony Orchestra, Newton Historic Fox Theatre, Prairie Window Concert Series of the Dyck Arboretum of the Plains, Carriage Factory Art Gallery, Kauffman Museum, Sound of the Heartland Chorus, Newton Community Children’s Choir and Newton Community Theatre.

Additional support for the festival is provided by Excel Industries/Hustler Turf Equipment, Newton Medical Center, Flint Hills Design, the Newton Chamber of Commerce, the City of Hesston and Holiday Inn Express. For information about becoming a sponsor, please contact Matthew Schloneger, matthews@hesston.edu.