Park City Kimball Arts Festival remains on calendar, but contingency dates considered |

Park City Kimball Arts Festival remains on calendar, but contingency dates considered

The Park City Kimball Arts Festival.
Park Record file photo

The Park City Kimball Arts Festival, a special event that draws some of the largest crowds of the year, remains on the calendar for 2020 even as the organizers of other events that were scheduled for the summer have canceled amid the efforts to combat the spread of the novel coronavirus.

The not-for-profit Kimball Art Center, which uses the festival as a crucial fundraiser, said this week the dates remain intact. The event is scheduled from July 31 until Aug. 2, a Friday to Sunday. The arts festival takes place on Main Street with the road closed to traffic in favor of artist booths, food vendors and entertainers.

The Kimball Art Center acknowledged the event is dependent on the public health circumstances. If restrictions remain in place prohibiting large gatherings, the event could not be held.

Amy Roberts, a spokesperson for the Kimball Art Center, said discussions are ongoing with officials at City Hall, the County Courthouse and the state government.

She said the Kimball Art Center is considering the possibility of contingency dates should the July 31-Aug. 2 schedule be scrapped. The contingency dates would be in the fall. Detailed dates were not available.

Roberts said the Kimball Art Center needs to make a decision the “sooner the better” and said late May is the likely deadline for one. She said decisions by health officials that would prohibit the event would supersede those made by the Kimball Art Center itself. Roberts said the organizers remain “cautiously optimistic” about the event in 2020.

The arts festival even after decades remains one of the signature events on the Park City calendar, drawing large crowds of Parkites, people from elsewhere in Utah and those from outside the state. They spend the weekend perusing the artist booths, listening to performers and dining against the backdrop of Main Street.

The 2020 edition of the arts festival had been expected to be especially intriguing with the organizers earlier approaching City Hall with several significant proposed changes to the operations. The Kimball Art Center wanted to eliminate the $15 admission charge and increase the number of artist booths in an effort to recoup some of the revenues lost by eliminating the admission charge. The footprint under that concept would have extended artist booths on 9th Street in the direction of Deer Valley Drive.

The Kimball Art Center engaged Mayor Andy Beerman and the Park City Council in discussions about the proposed change to the footprint late in 2019, but a decision was not made. Roberts, though, said the Kimball Art Center is no longer pursuing the extension of the artist booths and intends to charge for admission. She said the spread of the sickness influenced the decision against pursuing the operational changes.

Park City officials had been expected to address the impact on municipal services such as transit since an increase in attendance would be anticipated if the admission charge is eliminated. The sides offered wildly divergent projections regarding potential attendance increases, with City Hall saying the jump could be extreme and the Kimball Art Center forecasting a modest rise.

The arts festival is one of the later events of the summer, providing a slightly extended timeline for discussions about holding the 2020 event. It will almost certainly be a closely watched decision, though, given the arts festival’s standing as one of the city’s top special events. The arts festival in 2019 generated an economic impact of nearly $26.4 million, a jump of 13.1% from the previous year. The spending included lodging, meals, the sale of artworks at the event, entertainment and other unspecified purchases.

The arts festival, it appears, would be an important event for the community if it is held, regardless of whether the dates are in the summer or in the fall. There have been high-profile cancellations of summertime events in recent weeks as organizers weigh the concerns about the novel coronavirus. The Tour of Utah bicycling race, which was scheduled to reach Park City and surrounding Summit County in August as the bicyclists pedaled toward a finish line on Main Street, was canceled in early April. The Park Silly Sunday Market, held on Sundays in the summer and fall, was canceled this week.

Some of the other major events that remain on the calendar include the Independence Day celebrations in July and large youth baseball and softball tournaments later that month. There are also numerous concerts and smaller events slated for the summer.

Business during the summer-tourism season trails the ski season by a wide margin, but the numbers have increased over time to make the warm-weather months a gainful stretch for the community.

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