September is a month of endings. The end of long, sunny days, summer vacations and, of course, the end of festival season. The days of hearing live music, checking out unique art and sipping beer outside with friends are soon coming to a close until next spring. The Hot Times Community Music and Arts Festival gave the Columbus community a chance last weekend to bid adieu to all the summertime fun festivals have to offer.
The Hot Times Festival is the sister festival of Comfest, a large summer festival that takes place in Goodale park each June. Hundreds of people attend to promote community unity and enjoy art and music.
Brittany Leslie, a volunteer of four years at Hot Times, said once community members work Comfest, they are signed up to work at Hot Times if they want.
“It is a mini-version of Comfest,” she said.
Comfest volunteers were given vouchers for food and beverages for Hot Times at Comfest volunteer appreciation night on Friday.
The volunteer-run festival was sponsored by Columbus businesses such as Woodlands Tavern and Nationwide Children’s Hospital.
The festival kicked off Friday evening and took place downtown at the intersection of Parsons Avenue and Main Street on the lawns of the Columbus Health Department, the porch of which also served as one of the music stages.
For Leslie, volunteering at Comfest and Hot Times is an important part of giving back to a community she appreciates.
“When I was living on the streets, the community helped me,” Leslie said. “I have been housed for four years now. We don’t get paid to work, but taking the time to give back is payment enough.”
Donald “Duck” Yoho, also a fourth-year volunteer, agreed that volunteering is a great way to make a difference.
“We volunteer to give back to the community the best we can,” he said.
More than 50 bands performed over the weekend on three different stages, with genres ranging from bluegrass to reggae to folk. The headlining act was Fred Wesley, a soul musician who worked with James Brown in the 1970s.
Second-year attendee Ben Hanning of Columbus said the music is the best part of the festival.
“It is a good chance to hear all different kinds of music,” he said.
The festival also featured artwork from various artists across the community, including a large area of elaborately decorated vehicles known as “artcars.” Beyond the music and art, the festival had poetry slams, drum circles and plenty of kids’ activities, such as putt-putt golf. The street fair was filled with vendors selling clothing, jewelry and art, as well as local grassroots organizations promoting awareness and campaigning.
Attendees of all demographics could be found at Hot Times, from families with young children to older couples listening to jazz with a glass of wine.
Melissa Sjostrom of Columbus attended Hot Times for the second year in a row. She said the vibes, music, food and vendors are what brought her back.
“It is towards the end of festival season, and I am not ready for fall yet,” she said.
The Columbus-based funk band MojoFlo closed out the festival Sunday night.