Free, family friendly, come-as-you-are culture will be on display Saturday during the 21st annual Marion Arts Festival. Art Fair Source Book hails it as the top one-day event in the country and best festival featuring 100 artists or fewer in the United States for 2013. We agree, and you will, too, as you stroll among the fine arts and crafts created by 50 juried exhibitors from 15 states and Canada. Step into the Depot to try your hand at making pottery, with guidance from The Ceramics Center. Hit the streets for a half-marathon, 5K run and walk; fill up the Empty Bowls to raise funds to fight hunger; fill up your own empty stomachs at the various food vendors; and best of all, take home new art to end art-less-ness in your world.

What you need to know:

What: Marion Arts Festival

When: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday (5/18)

Where: City Square Park, Marion

Cost: Free

EMERGING ARTISTS The Marion Arts Festival Emerging Artists program presents five young artists from Eastern Iowa colleges and universities, each mentored by an area artist and selling their work alongside the festival’s slate of professional exhibitors. Participants were selected from a pool of students recommended by their program’s art faculty, and will offer work in a range of media. They are: Justina Cline, Coe College, ceramics; Erin McDonnell, Cornell College, painting; Martha McKiness, Kirkwood Community College, glass; Halle Siepman, University of Iowa, painting. EMPTY BOWLS PROJECT Each year the Empty Bowls project invites students in kindergarten through 12th grade to create and donate a ceramic bowl. The bowls are then sold, usually for about $5 each, at the Marion Arts Festival. Proceeds support local hunger relief organizations. Area artists also contribute both ceramic and wood bowls to the sale. During the last 14 years, the project raised more than $72,000 to benefit local hunger relief agencies, each year helping to serve more than 8,000 people needing assistance. This year, proceeds will support the Churches of Marion Food Pantry, the Linn Community Food Bank and Mission of Hope. ART IN THE DEPOT The annual Art in the Depot project offers an opportunity for everyone to show their creative side by contributing to a piece of public art. This year’s project is a memorial for Matt Dunkel, who worked as a mechanic for the City of Marion. The free-standing sculpture will be made of clay, and is being designed by Ben Jensen, executive director of the Ceramics Center, a not-for-profit arts center housed in the Cherry Building in southeast Cedar Rapids. When finished, the memorial will be installed in a Marion park. In addition to the large-scale public art project, the Ceramic Center will set up pottery wheels and a clay table where visitors can spend time playing with clay. Volunteers and staff will be available to demonstrate techniques and answer questions. Because finishing a clay project is a multiday process, clay from the wheels and the community table will be recycled. But even though participants aren’t taking a home finished piece, they are getting the experience of working with a raw material, and, possibly, a new perspective on the art they’re viewing at the rest of the festival.