46th “Epic Arts Party” is Here

The largest organized community event in Salina since the beginning of the pandemic two years ago is set to begin.

It started as a bicentennial street fair celebration. Over the years it has evolved to one of the biggest celebration of the arts in the Midwest. The 46th Annual Smoky Hill River Festival will take over Oakdale Park beginning Thursday night.

Thursday evening’s SM Hanson Festival Jam will get the party started. The jam, which begins at 6:00, is billed as “the biggest showcase in the USA”.  Each of 16 bands will get to play a 15 minute set.

Among other things at this year’s Smoky Hill River Festival there will be multiple acts on multiple stages, including 8 national and regional acts.

  • Country music and sunny Latino sounds are the themes on Festival stages. Headliners include Jason Boland & The Stragglers (Friday), Gangstagrass (Saturday), and SunDub (Sunday). Other familiar, yet different acts include The RT’s from NYC, Las Cafeteras from Los Angeles, CA, and Armchair Boogie from Minneapolis, MN. Roving and Arty’s Stage acts include Up, Up & Away balloon artists from Kansas City, and Duke Otherwise from Madison, WI. The Festival also features performances by aerial artists Voler- Thieves of Flight, in the pond each evening at 8 pm.

On the art scene, there will be 47 new artists, or 40 percent of the total.

  • Visual artists from 19 states come to the Festival to sell, demonstrate, and install their work. This year will be the Festival debut for 47 artists throughout the show and Art Demonstration areas. Salina native Hannah Gebhart created this year’s Festival print and Festival t-shirt. The t-shirt’s colorful elements began as an on-edge quilling piece before being transformed into an image. More than 20 site-specific, outdoor Art Installations will surprise Festival-goers around every corner across Oakdale Park.
  • Artyopolis for kids includes Creation Crossing make-and-take crafts, Button Boulevard, an artistically improved Game Street, Lego Lane, Mistical Oasis, Paintchoo Plaza, Arty’ Stage acts, and more. Artyopolis hours are Friday – Saturday 10 am to 6 pm and Sunday 12 pm to 4 pm.

The River Festival’s Art Patron Program offers art lovers and collectors a chance to sign up for special perks, including admission to the Thursday night PREMIERE cocktail party and a Friday morning preview hour of art show shopping, and more. Sign up by calling 785-309-5770.

For many, Food Row is a ‘must stop’ part of the Festival. With 10 new food vendors, there are plenty of new tastes to experience, including:

  • Crawfish Boil
  • Dole Pineapple Whip
  • Tike Tenders
  • Texas Twister
  • Sweet Thai Pork Tacos
  • Grilled Veggie Sandwich
  • Hot and Spicy Chicken Gyro
  • Hawaiian Chicken Sandwich

Admission to the River Festival is by weekend wristband. If you do not yet have one they are $20 at the gate for the whole weekend or $10 for one day.  Children 11 and under get in free.

General Festival hours are Thursday, June 9 from 4 pm to 10 pm, Friday and Saturday from 10 am to 10 pm, and Sunday, June 12 from 10 am to 5 pm.