Last March, when the longtime organizers of the Tooele Arts Festival announced they were taking a one-year hiatus from producing the annual summertime event, more than a few people were worried this meant the end of a 26-year tradition. After all, the festival had run on the backs of a relatively small cadre of volunteers for most of its history. Their decision to pass the torch on to a younger generation raised questions about whether anyone would step forward to spearhead the effort and if they could find enough volunteers to help them run the festival.
Those questions have now been answered. The festival will go ahead this year under new leadership and with the guidance of longtime festival organizer Susan Cummings. That’s something the entire community should be excited about.
But issues remain from the one-year interruption of normal service. The arts festival can not continue to be run by the same small group of organizers. For one thing, the effort and responsibility of producing Tooele’s largest community event have been too taxing on these individuals in the past. For another, the festival needs the energy and new ideas of the next generation. We hope an inclusive system can be established that allows the festival to run in perpetuity despite annual changeover in organizers and volunteers.
Every year, people debate what they like and don’t about the festival. Some want more of one type of entertainment, or less of a certain kind of food. Some love the bazaar-like serendipity of the arts on display, while others want only classical arts. But in all those debates the one constant was that the arts festival would always go on. Last year, that wasn’t the case, and few of us failed to notice the absence.
The return of the Tooele Arts Festival is good news for the entire community. Here’s hoping we can do what’s needed to maintain this wonderful annual tradition.