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Bostonians brave inclement weather to celebrate the “Ahts”

Heavy downpours weren’t enough to stop the ‘Ahts.’

The seventh annual Boston Arts Festival, also known as ‘Ahts,’ brought together an array of artists and performers this weekend at Christopher Columbus Waterfront Park, in spite of inclement weather.

This year’s festival offered new attractions such as weaving, calligraphy and origami, while continuing to feature established fan favorites such as The Diablo Glass School and The Boston Ballet Company.

‘It’s an unparalleled opportunity to highlight local artists to their colleagues in greater Boston as well as to tourists from all over the world,’ Julie Burns, director of the Mayor’s Office of Arts, Tourism & Special Events, said.

Mayor Thomas Menino created the festival in 2003, which has since expanded its venue annually.

‘Each year we try and figure out what we’re lacking and address it the next year,’ Burns said.

Despite the sunny atmosphere Sunday, the first two rainy days of the festival did not establish a welcoming kickoff to the weekend.

‘I wanted to come Saturday, but after seeing the pouring rain, I didn’t even bother leaving the house,’ first-time attendee Andrea Plank said.

The festival was cancelled for the first time ever Saturday due to the rain. But artists and Bostonians alike were quick to bounce back on Sunday.

Sean Clarke of Diablo has been featuring his work at the festival for the past four years.

‘I think any exposure to art on any level is not a bad thing,’ he said. ‘Boston doesn’t have a lot of centers for the arts, so it’s good to have a weekend for it all.’

Origamist Andrew Anselmo, featuring his work for the first time this year, said he agreed with Clarke.

‘Art is part of our world,’ he said. ‘It’s definitely part of who we are as people and we can’t ignore it.’

Event organizers said they hope Boston residents will take home a deeper understanding and respect for the importance art has in society.

Most attendees said they enjoyed the festival.

Boston native Anne Curlay said it was hard to pick a single favorite display with such varied styles of art to choose from.

‘I expected there to be more live entertainment, though,’ she said.

Diane Magyre and her husband celebrated their 25th anniversary by attending the festival.

‘The atmosphere, the arts and the bonding make it a great place to be,’ she said. ‘I wish they could do it more often.’

Zachary Paisley said art is a nice change of pace for Boston’s overall scene.

‘I tend to think of Boston as being more of a blue-collared town with baseball appreciation and fine beer,’ he said. ‘But when you have a nice arts festival, it also shows another side of the city you need to see.’

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