Fans Flocking to Festival

A good crowd is converging on Oakdale Park for the 45th Smoky Hill River Festival.

The 45th edition of the celebration of the arts in the park kicked off Thursday night with the Festival Jam, with nearly 3,500 fans.

Friday was the first full day of the festival, and organizers tell KSAL News 8,415 festival goers passed through the gates. They are pleased with the “great positive energy and enthusiasm”.

While many old favorites are back, there are a lot on new things at this years event.

Nearly 60 new artists will exhibit at the Fine Art and Craft Show and in the Art/Craft Demo area, in a variety of media. The more than 120 Festival artists, including eight Art/Craft Demonstration artists, hail from nearly 20 states.

More than 50 performing groups will perform on the Festival’s 45th-anniversary four live stages. Eric Stein Stage headliners include New Orleans-based Cowboy Mouth (Friday) , the Grammy-winning Phantom Blues Band from Los Angeles (Saturday), and local favorites Sunset Sinners on Sunday afternoon.

Genres of music represented this year include blues, jazz, rock ‘n’ roll, hip-hop, reggae, folk and more. Among the acts making their first-ever appearance at the Festival are Brooklyn, NY-based SunDub, Kansas City jazz group The Marcus Lewis Band, and Jarabe Mexicano from San Diego. Festival fans will remember popular returning acts Acoustic Eidolon, That 1 Guy, plus roving performers Drum Safari, Magic Bubbles and balloon artists Up Up & Away.

Lots of Fun is planned for the Artyopolis kid’s area, including Creation Crossing make-and-take items “Fuzzy Flexible Art,” “Imagination Station,” and “Make Your Mark.” Returning professional face painters “Color Me Crazy” will provide airbrushed arm or leg tattoos this year. Among the free Game Street activities are a football plus a baseball toss. Artyopolis hours are Friday and Saturday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday 12n to 4 p.m.

Three new outdoor Art Installations commissioned for Festival 2021 are among the more than 20 site-specific Installations to discover across Oakdale Park:

  • The “Big Fan” sculpture by Juniper ‘TJ’ Tangpuz of Lawrence, KS
  • “Standing Wave,” on the Tony’s Pizza Events Center Bridge, by Mike Miller of Wichita, KS.
  • “World’s Largest Collection of World’s Smallest Versions of World’s Largest Things Sideshow Extravaganza,” Erika Nelson of Lucas, KS.

Salina Arts and Humanities Director Brad Anderson tells KSAL a statewide COVID health alert is making an impact. With the current resurgence of COVID, safety changes have been identified and have been implemented. Among other things, masks will be required in some areas, and strongly encouraged in areas where they are not required.

The Saline County Health Department says it will not issue a quarantine order for those who attend the event.

The agency says those who attend are strongly encouraged to practice social distancing if at all possible, wear a mask when it is appropriate, wash hands often, and the like.

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Photo by Tanner Colvin