Independence was a shining star during the 2018 Astra Arts Festival as the streets were filled with those appreciating all the festival had to offer.

The festival kicked off Friday morning with many activities and exhibits offered such as "Let's Put on a Play" improv and stage presence workshop for youth, the Community Art Assemblage where all ages were invited to view a work in progress at Jim Hayward Fine Art, gallery art exhibits at Eclextic Art Gallery, Social Media Marketing for Authors workshop offered by Brandon West at the Independence Public Library, a candle-making workshop at Magnolia Scents by Design, Podcasting for writers presented by Nancy Kishpaugh at IPL, How to Make a Cartoon Fart, a discussion of animation with filmmaker Daniel Shepard, an art demo by Steve Greenwall at the Independence Museum and Art Center, and Friday evening, Pianist Barron Ryan gave a concert at the First Presbyterian Church. 

Saturday activities began at the Farmers Market where students from the Independence High School Theater performed and offered a Zombie Makeup Clinic. Other Saturday activities included, a tap workshop at R&S Studios, a Kids Jazz Workshop at Stage Art Dance, more chances to watch an art work in progress at Jim Hayward Fine Art, youth activities and face painting at Eclectix Art Gallery, Gordon Parks Literary Legacy with Jill Warford at IPL, a jewelry making workshop at Eclectix Art Gallery, a youth improvisation workshop at IPL, an alcohol ink workshop at Eclectix Art Gallery, adults improvisations workshop and a live action photography workshop with Rob Morgan.

Closing out Saturday was Saturday With the Arts outdoor festival in the 100 block of E. Myrtle which featured music, dance and theater, and artists demonstrated their works. Food vendors and homemade ice cream vendors were on site to feed the crowd. Performers included: the IHS Music Theater, Stage Art Dancers, Creekhouse, R&S Dance, Theater Improv, Dixieland and the Caddywompus Band. 

Sunday events included, community art assemblage at Jim Hayward Fine Art, a Reuter Pipe Organ Concert and Silent Film featuring Brett Valliant who accompanied the 1920 silent film "One Week" by Buster Keaton at the First Presbyterian Church. Finishing off a weekend of art and fun was Magic by Pete with Pete Walterscheid at the William Inge Theater at Independence Community College.

All during the festival, musicians were featured in various businesses for Music in the Storefronts. Musicians who performed were Terri Barbera, Meg and Tim, Rachel Unruh, Sarah Scovel, Rhonda Clark and the Jones Trio. The 65th annual Verdigris Valley Art Exhibit offered more art selections during the weekend at the Independence Museum and Art Center.

Major sponsors of the festival were the Independence Chamber of Commerce and Quality Toyota. Donors included: Maestro donors, Oak Ridge Boys concert in 2017; Patron donors, Bill and Jacque Oakes, Medicalodges, Inc. and Woods Lumber; Associate donors were Dave and Marlene Bannwarth and Kevin and Lea Shepard; Donor donors were Contemporary Study Club, Doug and Rhonda Bukles, Val Defever, Barb and Tim Emert, Equity Bank, FirstOak Bank, Independence Animal Hospital, Jim and Eloise Kelly, Vera Livingston, Jean Lundt, Liz Moore, Newkirk, Dennis and Buckles, PEO Sisterhood, Bruce Peterson, Ray and Donna Rothgeb, Sayers Ace Hardware, Marlene Schlatter, Barbara Schmidt, Veraville, Inc., Barry and Lori Wesselowski, Ronald L. and Margaret S. Mordy Trust; Actor donors were John and Nell Updegraff, Terry and Mary Hugo, Terry Hogan and Wilma Andrews; and Understudy donors were Phyllis Amick, Jim and Terry Hogan, Mike Flood and Tom and Debbie Schroeder.

Festival organizer Bruce Peterson said the weekend went very well. "All the acts feedback was top quality," he said. "Everyone said they were fantastic. I think the Music in the Storefronts was a big success."

Peterson said this was the first time they did a Saturday night outdoors. "It was steady, it wasn't huge but again it was about getting people out downtown on the streets," he explained. "They had a good time in downtown Independence which is always what you want to do."