The Park Record editorial, August 7-10, 2010 | ParkRecord.com

The Park Record editorial, August 7-10, 2010

Arts Festival: a masterpiece of community cooperation

It started as a desperate measure to draw a few cars into town off the Interstate. Forty-one years later, the Park City Kimball Arts Festival has become one of the state’s biggest summer events. We would argue that it also serves as an example of how to run a big event in a small town.

The run-up to this weekend’s festival has been marked by fresh banners on the light poles and a steady stream of delivery trucks on Main Street. But the journey from a funky little festival to a sophisticated special event has not been entirely smooth.

At various times in its history the Arts Festival, which now serves as the sustaining fundraiser for the nonprofit Kimball Art Center, has caused headaches for police and merchants. At times, locals have threatened to lock themselves indoors until the last festival patron hit the highway and local shop owners have questioned whether the mob should be moved to another location.

But with patient tinkering many of those conflicts have been resolved. Locals have reconnected with the event thanks to the free Friday preview. The traffic congestion has been lessened by the expanded free bus service and merchants are happier after negotiating a new layout for the artist booths and a better balance of food and entertainment offerings.

Finding a perfect fit for the festival has taken years of public input, interagency cooperation and experimentation, and no single person or group deserves all the credit. Rather, it has been a pervasive willingness to work together and a commitment to offer a high-class cultural event that has kept the Kimball Arts Festival going — and made it better every year.

This year, festival organizers have emphasized attracting visitors for a multitude of cultural happenings in the hopes that they will spend the night and, perhaps, stay all weekend. Those who accept that invitation will have the opportunity to stroll through the art booths and local galleries, listen to outdoor concerts at The Canyons, Deer Valley and Quarry Village, see a pair of vintage art-themed films at the Santy Auditorium and, of course, enjoy the town’s cornucopia of gourmet restaurants.

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Thanks to the vision of the festival’s founders and the persistence of representatives from nearly every sector of the community, the Park City Kimball Arts Festival has become a masterpiece of special-event planning.