The artwork has been chosen and volunteers are being recruited as Alexandria prepares for its third annual Festival of the Arts this weekend.

Organizers promise more artists, musicians and special events than in previous years at the festival, which will be held from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday in Old Town. Festivities will take place along King Street between Washington and Union streets.

The free event, which will feature exhibits by more than 200 artists, is expected to draw more than 20,000 patrons.

"There is so much wonderful art that's out there," said Leon Scioscia, chairman of the festival's organizing committee. "We want to bring as much of that local art and the national art to the community as possible."

Most of the artwork on display was selected at a juried event in Plantation, Fla., this spring. The quality of the art "seemed to have improved over the last year," said Lillian Fitzgerald, director of the Alexandria-based art consulting firm Fitzgerald Fine Art.

Fitzgerald was among the judges who evaluated 450 submissions from artists nationwide, including painters, photographers, jewelers, sculptors and ceramic artists.

"It's a cross section of different media," she said, "a lot to interest a lot of different people."

The artwork will be displayed in booths along King Street, which will be closed to motor traffic during the festival.

In addition to the nationwide competition, about 35 artists from Northern Virginia -- most from Arlington and Alexandria -- were selected by another jury to represent local talent.

"It gives an opportunity to newer artists if they haven't competed before," said Janet Barnett, deputy director of the city's Department of Recreation, Parks and Cultural Activities.

Their creations will be on display at Market Square. After the festival, unsold pieces will be displayed at City Hall for about a month.

For the first time, the Torpedo Factory Art Center will hold its annual Arts Safari in conjunction with the festival. The event, which is held on all three floors of the center, features art demonstrations and hands-on art experiences for children. Kids can create animals out of papier-mache, make plaster casts of their hands and feet, paint a mural of safari scenes and meet a children's book illustrator.

Music will have an increased presence at this year's festival, with double the number of musical acts putting on continuous performances at two locations -- the docks by the Torpedo Factory, and Market Square in front of City Hall. There will also be musical entertainment at various points along the festival route.

Debbie Brown Anderson, division chief of special programs with the Department of Recreation, Parks and Cultural Activities, said she is still seeking volunteers for the event.

Volunteers will serve as greeters, providing brochures and answering questions at the main entry points into the festival.

"The more hands the merrier," Anderson said, noting that additional volunteers would likely be stationed on side streets off King Street and help shorten the work shifts of those who have already signed up. "We're very much in need of volunteers to come and ease the load on the corps we have now."

To volunteer, contact Anderson at 703-838-4343. For a complete schedule of events, visit www.funside.com or www.alexandriaarts.com.

Art lovers crowd the booths and exhibits along King Street at last year's Alexandria Festival of the Arts in Old Town.