Running while wearing glow-in-the-dark paint might be the coolest way to fight off summer-evening temperatures, according to one fundraising organizer.

Outdoor fans of all ages will have the option of being sprayed with glow-in-the-dark paint during the Center for Art and Education’s second annual Imagine 5K Glow Run and 1 Mile Fun Run, which will begin at 5 p.m. Saturday in the 400 block of Main Street in downtown Van Buren.

The event will raise money for the Center for Art and Education’s Imagine capital campaign and summer programs and will include a race, food, art demonstrations from area artists, an awards ceremony, children’s art activities and more, said Brent Gunnels, community relation manager for the center.

“This year, we are expecting around 200 runners, and they come from as far away as Cabot, north of Little Rock, and from northwest Arkansas,” he said. “Last year, we had just over 100 runners, so this will be a bigger event this time.”

One of the new features of this year’s event will be the inclusion of numerous artists, who will demonstrate their skills and artistic creations “in the street” for people to admire and purchase, Gunnels said.

“There will be a stone sculptor who will have a block of stone, a hammer and a chisel,” he said. “You are welcome to try and chip away at the stone and be creative, and we’ll also have some artists making jewelry, working with pottery and, maybe, even some print-making. We’re trying to make it more of an opportunity where people can come in and see artists working on these pieces.”

Live music from the Fort Smith-based band Who Shot Jr will be heard throughout the downtown area, and children will have their chance to indulge in water-color artwork and face-painting, Gunnels said.

“People will see food trucks and there will be non-alcoholic drinks available,” he said. “And this event is part of the Old Town Merchants’ Second Saturday Shopping program, so all of these shops should be open until the beginning of the race. People can visit these shops and get some food. It’s a great family activity.”

Runners will start lining up at 7:30 p.m.; the race will both begin and end in front of the Center for Art and Education’s new building, Gunnels said. Runners, if they wish, will have four chances to have paint sprayed on them during the race, he said.

“When runners get back to the King Opera House area, the black lights will be on and everyone will be glowing,” Gunnels said. “We will have an awards ceremony following the race, and there will be different winners in age brackets, an overall male and overall female winner and more.”

Jane Owen, executive director for the Center for Art and Education, said she hopes many area residents and visitors participate in the event. Some of the money raised from the race/fun run will go to help pay for the center’s new 13,354-square-foot building at 415 Main St. in Van Buren, she said.

“We are doing really well with the capital campaign,” Owen said. “We are hoping that by fall, we will be able to get started with the new building.

“The plans are in the hands of the architect, MAHG Architecture, and the structural engineer, Myers Engineering, and once the plans are revamped and ready, we will go from there,” she added. “Once that all is figured, we will have a definite estimate on the cost of the new building, and that will determine how much total we will need to raise.”

Other funds raised from the Glow Run will go to help fund the center’s summer art programs, Owen said.

“Once we are open for business in our new building on Main Street, that part of Main Street won’t ever sleep,” she said. “We will be right next to the King Opera House, so that will be great. There will be so much great activity happening there.”

Advanced registration for the Glow Run is $20 for adults and $10 for children 12 and younger and can be completed by calling (479) 474-7767, at the Center for Art and Education, 104 N. 13th St. in Van Buren, and at

Race day registration will be $25. Pre-registration also can be completed at True Grit Running Co., 6808 Rogers Ave., Suite B. Runners can pick up their packets beginning at noon Saturday; the first 100 who pre-register will receive a free event t-shirt, Gunnels said.

“There’s a glow-in-the-dark ring around the medals, so that will help make this a fun event,” he said. “We’re really hoping that this year’s fundraiser turns out great.”