Smoky Hill River Festival Unveiled

Organizers Tuesday morning unveiled some of the plans for the 2015 Smoky Hill River Festival. The annual celebration of the arts this year is June 11th – June 14th in Oakdale Park.

Salina Arts and Humanities Director Brad Anderson declared that the Smoky Hill River Festival “is about the food, it’s about the art, it’s about the entertainment that includes four stages of local and national acts, but mostly it’s about the community.”

The popular Festival Jam will get things started Thursday night. The Big Band Dance will be back again as well, Friday night inside the Bicentennial Center.

With the passing late last year of long-time Art Education Coordinator Sharon Benson, Salinan Loren Banninger has volunteered to help with the entertainment. Banninger has been a festival fixture for years, managing the Eric Stein Stage. Steely Dan tribute band Twelve Against Nature will headline Friday night. Saturday night’s headliner is Band of Heathens,  a Texas rock band. The Bon Ton Soul Accordion Band will close the festival on Sunday.

This year there will be 33 food booths. Many favorites will be back, along with five new ones. Big Drew’s Cajun Express from Louisiana, Chapman’s Takeaway from Salina, Lee’s Express from Missouri, Russ & Annie’s Place from Hutchinson, and There’s No Place Like Home also from Hutchinson will be festival first-timers this year.

This will be the first festival for Salina Arts and Humanities Visual Arts Coordinator Grace Peterson. She says that the visual arts this year won’t disappoint, with about 130 artists participating. Essentially there are three different shows, including fine arts, fine crafts, and art demonstrations. New this year, among other things, will be “Bubblegum Bison”. It’s an interactive community mural. Festival goers participate by chewing different colored gum and putting it on the piece.

This year will mark the 21st year of the art patron program at the festival. The patron program is a pledge to purchase at least $250 of art from the fine art show. The program brings in about $135,000. Along with the art purchase, patrons receive several perks including a breakfast event catered by the Salina Country Club.

There will again this year be a medallion search in the days leading up to the festival. It will begin on Friday, May 29th, with an event and concert from local Salina band Northcut at the Eric Stein Stage in Oakdale Park where the first clue will be released.  In a bit of a change this year, two clues will be released daily, at 7:30 in the morning and 5:30 in the evening, until the medallion is found.

Smoky Hill River Festival Buttons go on sale May 1st. They will be sold online, and in multiple cities around the region including Salina.

Online: Smoky Hill River Festival