GRAND RAPIDS—The world's biggest art competition is completing its final day Saturday and everyone involved from the volunteers to the visitors and even the organizers were surprised by the public's final push to see the ArtPrize pieces.
Tara Brooks has lived in Grand Rapids her entire life. She says she's energized by the renewed interest in visiting the downtown area.
"It's really exciting because I feel like everyone views Grand Rapids as a small little town and then to see something this big come and bring all these people from everywhere together into our little sweet Grand Rapids. I think it's awesome."
22 year old Edgard Portela is a political science major at Aquinas. He wishes he would've made it downtown before Saturday's conclusion.
"I'm sorry that I missed the rest of it. Because people keep telling me that there were a lot of really cool pieces... I think that having art all over Grand Rapids when it's already a pretty nice looking downtown area just makes people want to come out and see more."
The line outside the Federal Building on Division Avenue wrapped around the building and was up to an hour long at times Saturday afternoon. People were in pretty good spirits as they waited to see several of the top ten pieces including Ran Ortner's winning work, 'Open Water Number 24' in the galleries.
"I've heard a lot about it. I've seen some pictures online and we just wanted to come check it out. We've loved everything we've seen so far," added Maria Hasshaw.
Paul Moore is in charge of the communications department with ArtPrize. He didn't expect the lines he saw Saturday.
"I'm surprised. I thought that when we had 8,400 people walk through last week to see what they were going to vote on, that that was going to be the end of it... I have no idea how many people are walking through now but it's a lot more.....so there's literally a river running through the museum of people to see those pieces."
Moore says that plans are already in the works for the second year of the competition. "We're going to take some time for sure over the next month to meet with artists, meet with venues, phone call or email as many people as we can to get feedback on year one so we can make year two even better."