Visitors check out artwork during the last full-on Riverside Arts Weekend, also known as RAW, in 2019. | FILE

After a four-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Riverside Arts Weekend will return to Guthrie Park in Riverside on June 10 and 11. 

The event includes a juried art fair, Community Art Piece, live entertainment, food and drink vendors and children’s activities in collaboration with the Riverside Arts Center. Entry is free to all parts of the fair.

Around 30 artists — a mix of new and returning — will be featured at the fair. From sculpture and jewelry to painting and photography, a variety of art will be available to view and purchase at the artists’ booths.

This year’s Community Art Piece — formerly called the Spectacle — is a collection of birdhouses. Every year, the piece brings in aspects about what makes Riverside unique, and this year’s theme is in recognition of Riverside’s location along a migratory bird path, RAW President Charlotte Zia said. 

Artists were encouraged to creatively interpret a birdhouse, using whichever media they preferred to think outside of the box. These birdhouses will be on display throughout the festival and will be available for auction.

In addition to the visual art, several local fine arts groups will perform during the festival. June 10 will feature Beyond Words Dance Center, Hollywood Slim Blues Band, Ralph Hepola and Alewife, and June 11 will showcase Cod City, Vintage Duo and Out for Hours.

Food and drink will be sold by La Barra, Empanadus, Sweet Ride Bakery and Sloan Coffee as well as Blended Fruit Smoothies and YummiKupkake.

All-day activities include the Community Art Piece, a silent auction and the Children’s Art Piece. The festival will run from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on June 10 and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on June 11.

Featuring local businesses and involving community members in a variety of ways, RAW’s mission is to inspire the community to explore and enjoy art, Zia said.

“It’s really to increase art appreciation and the creative process and have fun. We’re hoping that this keeps art always in someone’s mind,” she said.

One artist participating in the fair is Shilin Hora, a botanical artist and nature enthusiast. Hora was the owner of a former Riverside business, The Seed, and she was drawn to the area because of its connection to nature, with inspiration from landscape architect Frederick Law Olmstead and naturalist Roy Niblick. 

Though Hora has been a longtime member of the Riverside arts scene, this is her first year participating in RAW as an artist.

“[I’m] totally excited. [It’ll] just be nice to touch base with the community since the store closed… It’s fun to be out and start your summer with a bang,” Hora said. 

Hora’s showcase for the fair will include botanical boxes, fresh flower arrangements and intaglio prints, ranging in price from around $15 to about $500.

RAW was founded in 2008, and with this year as a grand return after the pandemic, Zia said that board of directors is trying to balance bringing back the weekend that everyone knows and remembers while also being different from other years.

“When we were reviewing all the applications, we were just excited for all of it and really trying to bring and speak to the diversity of art, the different mediums that are out there and then just things that sort of were different,” Zia said.

She hopes that the variety of art media will create an enriching experience for all participants and community members to explore art and Riverside. 

“I always want to make sure that there’s something that sort of puts you a little more on edge and makes you go ‘Oh wow, that’s art!’” Zia said.

Chris Neumer, a fashion photographer and frequent RAW participant based in Riverside, will be returning to the festival with his fan-favorite pictures of Riverside landmarks. Though he has seen RAW go through many iterations on the business side, the passion of the town and its art community has stayed consistent, Neumer said. 

“It is really made up by the people who participate in it as well as the Riverside community, and so it feels very much like something that is a source of hometown pride,” Neumer said.

Compared to other art shows Neumer participates in, Riverside Arts Weekend tends to be very locally focused, which he said creates a much different vibe for the festival.

“Being a part of that area and being a part of that community, it’s really nice to experience that, and it’s something that I don’t get anywhere else,” Neumer said.

As a nonprofit organization, RAW is completely organized by volunteers, Zia said.

“We’re always open to ideas and more people getting involved. … We really want to not just grow the interest in folks attending but being part of the process,” Zia said.

Neumer reiterated the importance of volunteers and community support.

“None of it would actually work without the volunteers and the effort of all the people who are working on it and believe in it, and you don’t see that in a lot of other places,” Neumer said.

For more information about Riverside Arts Weekend and the schedule of events, visit or the RAW Facebook page.