The final numbers from the 2015 Smoky Hill River Festival have organizers smiling.
According Salina Arts and Humanities, cooperative weather and strong, live stage acts were among the high points of River Festival 2015. Here are a few highlights, even as event evaluation continues.
PLAY TIME: More than 2,500 children came ready to frolic and create in Artyopolis—the kid-sized metropolis with tons to do. In addition to nine free make-and-take crafts, button making and face painting, nine Game Street activities generated $6,894 in revenues for eight host community or civic groups.
ART FOR ALL: Local and regional art lovers took home nearly $450,00 ($449,731) worth of original artwork from the Fine Art and Four Rivers Craft Shows and the Artist Demonstration area. While overall art show/demo sales were under that for 2014 ($459,757), perbooth average sales for exhibiting artists in the Fine Art Show increased by 20 percent, from $2,310 in 2014 to $2,835 for 2015. Per-artist sales in the Four Rivers Craft Show also grew, by two percent. Artists and Festival staff say the significant single-year perbooth increase speaks to the strong caliber and variety of Festival art as well as the event’s knowledgeable art lovers and collectors. Sixteen brand-new artists were among the 2015 exhibitors who hailed from 32 states. The eight artists selected for the Art-Craft Demonstration area showed Festival attendees of all ages how their work is made.
ORDER UP: Festival-goers enjoyed longtime favorites and brand-new treats, resulting in $306,803 in gross food sales by 33 vendors, five of them brand-new for 2015. Hot items on this year’s menu included Grilled Lemonade, the Peachy Pig dessert and the Pork Parfait.
LET THEM IN: The Festival gate count for 2015 was 61,439, a decrease of 1,421 compared to 62,860 for 2014.
WHO’S GOT A BUTTON? Admission-button sales accounted for $203,090 of Festival revenue, compared to $218,492 in 2014. A total of 20,608 Buttons were sold or distributed as part of performer, vendor or sponsor agreements, compared to 22,051 in 2015. Regional button sales outside of Salina dipped slightly, down from 547 in 2014 to 512 in 2015. The regional Button Retailer network now consists of outlets in 19 cities including Salina. Two hundred more weekend admission buttons were purchased this year by local employers for their staff and families to enjoy—2,611
compared to 2,393 in 2014. A low-cost and popular way to appreciate employees or affiliates, employee buttons may be ordered via phone or e-mail and are delivered at no charge with a minimum of 10 buttons to offices in the Salina area. As part of the Festival Families First program, eight community businesses and organizations underwrote 860 Festival admission buttons that were provided to children and families in need who otherwise could not participate in the Festival.
MAKING IT HAPPEN: Three hundred and fifty-one local and regional Festival Sponsors contributed $272,518 in cash or in-kind services in support of the River Festival. It takes almost $525,000 to stage the entire event each year. Sixty-five to 70 percent of the Festival’s income comes from Sponsor contributions and button sales.