It was 1:00 a.m. on Saturday, July 30, 2021, and I was just finishing up a nearly 93-hour work week. I don’t think I had eaten anything of nutritional substance in 6 or 7 days, and had been solely existing on gummy bears and Liquid I.V. in my water. I’m pretty sure I had started to hallucinate… or maybe it was just the sun exposure and the loud music.

I had helped coordinate other art events in the past that had a daily attendance of over 120,000 thousand people, but Art in the Park gave me, a grizzled festival director, a solid test of my steel.

I had 15 weeks to put her together, and I’m proud to say that she was the most successful Art in the Park event Allied Arts Association had hosted since 1996. Yet in reflection, I felt that Art in the Park was limiting her own potential.

If you have been a Tri-Citizen for longer than five years, you have at least heard about Art in the Park. It’s the art event that happens the last weekend of July every year in Howard Amon Park. But what most locals are unaware of is that Art in the Park has been a part of our community for 72 years. It also happens to be the only annual fundraiser for Allied Arts Association (a local art nonprofit). 100% of the proceeds from Art in the Park go to pay for event operational overhead, keeping the doors of Gallery at the Park open, AND funding the scholarships, children’s workshops, adult workshops, featured artists shows, and artist receptions that occur at Gallery at the Park.

Art in the Park has never charged an entrance fee for events, and has prided itself on supporting other local nonprofits in our region. It is completely run by volunteers. Art in the Park showcases local art groups and art organizations on the Fingernail stage, and has hosted upwards of 300 artists from across the United States. We are the largest art festival in the Mid-Columbia Basin.

She is truly the ‘Little’ art event with a BIG heart. We know all of our volunteers by name. We remember our artists and make a point of welcoming them back. We pride ourselves on making our event feel like a homecoming to our community.

But even with all of this wonderful, hometown feel… she wasn’t keeping up with the times. Our patrons have traveled more. Have been wined and dined more. Have visited other art events in the Pacific Northwest. Our region has seen an incredible increase in new residents from California, Oregon, and the west side. Our demographic has broadened and expanded and we, quite honestly, needed to welcome this dynamic energy, and grow.

I’m very happy to announce that, with the support of the Allied Arts Association Board of Directors, Art in the Park is reinventing herself!

If I may have the honor, I introduce you to… Art in the Park Festival!

She will still be an annual event that happens at the end of July in Howard Amon Park. She will still be free, all-ages, and family-friendly. She is still run exclusively by volunteers. BUT… going forward, she will be hosting incredible bands and performances from some of the most popular and sought-after musicians in the Pacific Northwest, all for your enjoyment on The Stage (that’s the Fingernail, by the way), presented by the generous support of STCU!  

Along with entertainment, we have actively listened to the feedback of our patrons, and invited popular food trucks and concession stands to offer to you the best possible food selections at our festival.

We have also asked local nonprofits to be present so everyone — everyone — in our community can feel loved, welcomed, wanted, and invited to the festival.

Her vibe is going to be that awesome combination of music festival and immersive art experience, hosting talented artists from across the breadth of the United States and celebrating you!

I guess upon reflection in writing this, Art in the Park Festival is still the ‘little’ local art festival with a BIG heart.

We truly hope you will come and support us in our coming out. Every aspect of this festival has been presented in love, and we hope you can feel it when you are here.

Thanks for making Art in the Park Festival better.

Art in the Park Festival will be July 28 & 29 at Howard Amon Park.