Epic Arts Party Underway

A large crowd gathered in Salina’s Oakdale Park Thursday to be a part of the official opening event of the 2024 Smoky Hill River Festival. Though it got cut short, the 38th SM Hanson Festival Jam officially started the annual party in the park.

The Jam wasn’t scheduled to start until 6:00. But there were fans waiting when the gates opened at 4:00. Within a matter of minutes, many people were already claiming their favorite spots. The crowd braved a hot evening which turned wet.

Initially anticipated high wind in the area prompted a 45 minute weather delay, followed by a 30 minute lightning delay.  A subsequent heavy downpour then prompted the event to be cancelled, after four of the seventeen scheduled bands performed.  The Smoky Hill River Festival foolows the advice of Salina PArks and Recreation when making decision like this.  You can sign up for official weather notifications and directives from the Festival at this link by selecting Oakdale Park under news and announcements

Salina Arts and Humanities Executive Director Brad Anderson told KSAL News “I was disappointed that excessive lighting prevented us from enjoying a highly anticipated and popular evening. I greatly appreciate the attitude of the crowd and how they responded to the unexpected rain. We are looking forward to milder temperatures on Friday and Saturday. It’s going to be wonderful weekend!”

Highlights of the Festival include 125 exhibiting artists from 23 states, including 58 first-time artists. There are five returning craft demonstrators as well, along with two new ones. There will be three live paintings that are created during the festival, along with the river bank mural.

Artyopolis, an interactive children’s area full of arts, crafts, face painting, and games, will also feature three new games on Game Street.

Headliners on the Eric Stein Stage include Monophonics on Friday night, William Beckman on Saturday night, and Papa Green Shoes will be the final act Sunday afternoon.

The 43rd Smoky Hill River Run is back. The Saturday morning event includes a two-mile walk, children’s races, and a two-mile and five-mile electronically timed race.

Kids and families rush into the park when the gates open to get a spot at First Treasures on Saturday, a special patron tent for kids 4-13 years old. Participants can select hundreds of items priced from $1 to $5, provided by exhibiting artists.

Food Row will feature over 30 food vendors, including a mix of new additions and returning favorites. New food vendors this year include:

  • Brazita Bites Taste of Brazil
  • Bucket List BBQ
  • German Kitchen
  • Ma Ma-Ci’s Meet and Sweet Pies
  • Mac Daddy’s
  • Sam and Louie’s Mobile Pizzeria
  • Hot Off the Press
  • Honey and Rue’s
  • Fargo Fillies

In addition to art, food, music, and activities for kids, the Smoky Hill River Festival relies on approximately 2,000 volunteers each year.

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Salina Arts and Humanities Photo