The recent cancellation of Tooele County events due to budget troubles has some residents asking if the Tooele Arts Festival will be scrubbed, too.
But organizers say the popular festival is definitely on.
“It’s been a comment and a phone call here and there with people generally starting the conversation by saying something like, ‘You guys aren’t having your event either right?’” said Kaye Beeny, Tooele Arts Festival head organizer. “I have to keep telling people the Tooele Arts Festival has nothing to do with the county or the fair.”
The Tooele Arts Festival is entirely separate from Tooele County, as well as Tooele City, Beeny said.
“We are separate entities that are not funded in the same way and are not staffed by the same people,” she said. “The staff for the festival is completely voluntary and all of the money we earn goes toward entertainment, permits and other stuff like that. The arts festival is independent of the city or the county.”
Beeny said funding for the Tooele Arts Festival comes from local business sponsors, grants from the Tooele City Arts Council and other art groups, and fees paid by visual artists and food vendors for their booths. A small amount of money also comes from beer and hot dog sales at the festival, she said.
“We get a generous grant from the Tooele City Arts Council, and we also receive small grants from groups like the National Endowment for Arts,” she said. “We run a very tight ship because we rely on donations for more than half of what we do. Everything we have is donated, volunteered or reused. I don’t know how the county funds the fair, but it’s completely separate from us.”
This year’s festival is scheduled to take place June 21 to 23. Beeny said many of the popular art, craft and food vendors that attended last year will again be at the festival. In addition, she said the entertainment should be stellar.
“We had a lot of requests last year for the Salt Lake Scots bagpipe band, but when we got started it was too late to book them,” she said. “But this year we’re excited to have them back on Saturday. The Saliva Sisters will be there on Sunday, and they haven’t performed at the festival for quite some time.”
Beeny said last year, country singer Eric Dodge and Grantsville-based band Kindle Creek both performed, but on different nights. This year, because they have similar country-rock sounds, Beeny said the two artists will both perform on Friday night in order to draw people who like that genre of music.
“On Saturday night, we will have Ryan Shupe & The Rubberband,” Beeny said. “They are a really popular group with a big following and their music is crazy fun. They have a song about a banjo and a song about corndogs. They are kind of pop, country and bluegrass. They’re lots of fun to watch.”
Besides musical entertainment, Beeny said the children’s art yard will again be part of the festival, with a theme this year of “Around the World.” The 5k and children’s 5k will also take place again on Saturday morning.
A new part of the arts festival happening this year, in conjunction with the Tooele City Arts Council, is a plein air art contest. Plein air art is particularly used to describe the act of painting outdoors. The contest will take place between June 17 and 23.
“This contest is for any kind of artist,” Beeny said. “It doesn’t have to be someone there selling art. Each artist will come and pick up a canvas and then they’ll have to come back a couple of days later so they only have a day or two to come up with their masterpiece. Their art needs to be art about Tooele, like scenery, the Benson Gristmill or an old cowboy. When they bring their art back, it’s judged and monetary prizes will be given to the winners.”
Artists will be able to sell and display their work and win prizes up to $500. Categories will be draw and paint, photography and found objects, which are things like recycled materials turned into art, Beeny said. For more information on the contest, visit www.tooelecity.org and click on the Tooele City Arts Council logo.
“We’re really excited to be back again this year,” Beeny said. “We have a lot of great local talent coming.”
The annual arts festival started in 1985.