Big Four Bridge Arts Festival 2021

Soak up one of the last weeks of summer with art, food and fun for the whole family


By Rachel Porter
Photos provided by Big Four Bridge Arts Festival


Although it seems like summer is slipping away, there are still several events to look forward to during the warmer months we have left. The Big Four Bridge Arts Festival is one of those events you don’t want to miss. The fifth annual festival will be hosting up to 150 juried artists on the Big Four Bridge Lawn that overlooks the Ohio River at Waterfront Park in Louisville, KY.  We spoke to the Big Four Bridge Arts Festival Directors, Lou Nunnelley and Amy Powers, to hear more about the event and what attendees can expect this year. 

How did the Big Four Bridge Arts Festival begin five years ago?

The Founder and Director, Lou Nunnelley, planned the festival approximately four years before it fully flourished into the popular event it is today. When Nunnelley heard about the city’s plans to start the Big Four Walking Bridge, he knew that it would be the best place to hold the art festival. From traveling around the country to different festivals to reading books on how to put art festivals together and also being an artist himself, Nunelley felt ready and inspired to bring his idea to life. As an art festival that started with 120 vendors to now 150, it has grown to have over 40,000 attendees, making it the most attended two-day event ever held on the Big Four Bridge Lawn.

Which and what types of artists are participating in the festival this year? Are there any new, exciting and notable artists to keep an eye out for? 

Each year, artists from all over the country participate and display their art to the city. To participate in the festival, the art has to be 100% handmade. It can range from fine arts to crafts, ensuring there is something for everyone. This year, there will be eight emerging artists. An emerging artist can be someone who has never even done a festival before but still has a gift and passion for artmaking. Some of the emerging artists include Rachel Carter, a silversmith, Chad Vance, a painter and James Callop, a photographer. There will be returning artists such as Chris Hartsfeld, a painter and Doug Brink, a ceramic artist. 

What are some of the other activities the Big Four Bridge Arts Festival will have for families to enjoy?

The Big Four Bridge Arts Festival will provide entertainment of all aspects for adults and children. Every year, Nunnelly and Powers scout local musicians from around the city to play live music for the attendees and artists to watch and listen to. Tyron Cotton and Carly Johnson are two musicians that will be returning this year. This year is very special in regards to music because it is the first time the festival is partnering with the University of Louisville’s Music Therapy Department. 

While attendees are listening to music or observing and buying art, they can also enjoy some delicious food. There will be several food trucks and festival cuisine and spirits for attendees to indulge in. Children have the opportunity to have some fun as well in the children’s activities tent with arts and crafts and the Foggy Bottom Petting Zoo. 

What types of relationships has the Big Four Bridge Arts Festival established with the Louisville community?

Nunnelly and Powers specifically wanted the festival to have a meaningful cause. They have not only partnered with the University of Louisville’s Music Therapy Department, but have also been partners with Bridgehaven Mental Health Services since the beginning. Bridgehaven provides hope and recovery through innovation and community-based mental health services to adults living with mental illness. This year, admission is $5 and a portion of the proceeds goes to Bridgehaven. The festival hopes to advocate for the importance of destigmatizing mental health and creating more positive mental health facilities. To find out more information, there will be volunteers at the front gate helping with admissions. 

How can volunteers and artists get involved?

If people would still like to volunteer for this year’s festival, they can go to the website and sign up for a time slot. Artist applications for 2022 will be opened on the website from Jan. 1 – May 10. 

The Big Four Bridge Arts Festival will take place the weekend after Labor Day, from Sept. 11- 12, at the Big Four Bridge Lawn. Tickets will only be sold at the entrance of the festival for $5. Nunnelly and Powers are very excited about this year due to the festival being canceled last year and want everyone to enjoy the river, warm weather, and most importantly, the art.

Big Four Bridge Arts Festival
1103 River Road
Louisville, KY 40202