Arts fest deal nearly inked
May 12, 2007
Mike Lindbloom seems to have a perfect business in a perfect location during the Park City Kimball Arts Festival.
Lindbloom’s Main Street Deli, about halfway up the street and popular for its lower-priced menu and quick service, draws scores of people visiting Main Street for the festival, still the most famous of Park City’s summertime events.
"They’re good. They’re probably a little better than a weekend in the ski season," he says about the deli’s receipts, heavy with breakfast business, during the festival. "In the middle of the summer, that’s pretty good."
City Hall and the Kimball Art Center, which organizes the festival as its key fundraiser, are negotiating a long-term deal that would ensure the festival remains on Main Street. Mayor Dana Williams and the Park City Council could discuss the prospects as early as May 17 but details have not been made public.
There have been rumblings in the past, though never formalized, that the art center could pick another location for the festival, perhaps at Kimball Junction or the parking lots at the local mountain resorts.
Both the Kimball and City Hall appear prepared to sign a deal and it seems unlikely that the festival will ditch Main Street, where it has been held each of its 37 years.
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At the Kimball, Pam Crowe-Weisberg, the center’s executive director, says Main Street is the best spot and keeping the festival there is her side’s intention.
"The Kimball is in downtown Park City. We are part of downtown Park City and the arts festival should stay in downtown Park City," Crowe-Weisberg says.
She acknowledges the Kimball is not eyeing other locations for the festival but she has done so, briefly, in the past, saying that, as an executive, she must consider options. The talks with other locations, including Redstone Towne Center, which were not well publicized, did not appear to advance.
The art festival long was the dominant summertime event in Park City and even as others like the Triple Crown softball tournament have become popular, the Kimball’s gathering of art lovers remains one of the busiest weekends of the year.
The Kimball and City Hall have been without a long-term contract to hold the festival on Main Street since 2005 and Alison Butz, who manages special events for the government, says the two sides have not signed an agreement for the 2007 edition, scheduled Aug. 4-5, with two days of festivities scheduled before the weekend.
Butz says City Hall and the Kimball are contemplating a contract from 2007 until 2012 and it is unclear if a deal would include an option for additional years. The details will not be publicized until a few days before the City Council schedules a vote. Butz says a hearing and a City Council vote are tentatively scheduled on May 17.
"At this point, we’re trying to find out what both parties are comfortable with," Butz says.
The agreement will likely cover what services City Hall will provide during the festival, with Crowe-Weisberg saying the Kimball requires police officers assigned to the festival, buses and traffic controls. The requests would be similar to what the government gives already. She says the Kimball is not seeking significant subsidies from City Hall.
The art festival, with its various corporate sponsors, turns Main Street into what many see as Utah’s top marketplace for art. It draws Parkites, people from elsewhere in Utah and visitors from outside the state. Artists sell their wares — paintings, pottery, photographs and sculptures, among other media — and many of them say sales are solid during the festival. Some of the purveyors return each year.
"It’s the vision people have of Park City in the summer and we want to maintain that," Butz says.
But it is also one of the busiest weekends of the year as the crowds drive to Park City. Officials restrict traffic into upper Old Town during the festival, making people who live there obtain passes so they can drive to their houses and posting police officers on key roads to stop visitors trying to drive toward Main Street.
Crowe-Weisberg reports University of Utah researchers in 2006 determined the arts festival pumped a little more than $6.4 million into the local economy, mostly from retail sales, which the researchers said totaled $4 million. Restaurants added $1.6 million, hotels $735,000 and another $100,000 was spent elsewhere in the city, Crowe-Weisberg says.
Attendance in 2006 was 42,000 and the number of people has consistently climbed, she says. The typical person attending the art festival spends $234.52, with 60 percent of the money being spent at retailers, Crowe-Weisberg says.
"People are spending a lot of money," she says, adding that the numbers were not expected. "It was shocking to us."
The Kimball as early as 2008 wants to add a full day to the event, the Friday before, Crowe-Weisberg says, explaining a three-day festival would be attractive to people wanting to spend a long weekend in Park City.
"I think it’s really important because Park City is changing," she says. "It’s something that draws people to Park City."