Festing into the Future: Kimball Arts Festival Returns This Weekend

Annual rites of passage seem as natural and inevitable as the changing of the weather, but the only thing keeping tradition alive is the hard work of the people behind the scenes. So it is for the Kimball Arts Festival. This year’s edition comes to town the first weekend of August, just as it has year after year since a group of local artists decided to host an open-air festival in the summer of 1969. With a recently-approved five-year agreement between Park City and the Kimball Art Center in place, art lovers can expect the Kimball Arts Festival to come around every year through 2028 at least. 

A secure future for the Kimball Arts Festival wasn’t an inevitability. All you have to look at is the ongoing challenge the Park Silly Sunday Market—another Park City institution which attracts roughly 15,000 people to Main Street each Sunday—has faced while trying in vain thus far to secure a long-term contract. So, having a bit of certainty about a beloved tradition should be met with a sigh of relief at the very least. 

kimball Arts Festival
Photo Credit C. Wiley

Arts Fest seems to be a mutually beneficial arrangement between the town and the Kimball Art Center. The festival draws somewhere in the neighborhood of 30,000 attendees over a three-day stretch, which is a boon to local businesses and a nice hedge for Park City against visitation fluctuations inherent in outdoor recreation based tourism. In fact, it’s one of the largest three-day crowds the town sees all year. Meanwhile, the event serves as the biggest fundraiser for the Kimball Art Center, helping fund its education programs, year-round exhibitions and community events. 

“Kimball has done a lot with social equity and DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion) this year. They’ve worked hard to increase access for underserved populations, and they’re working with the city to help promote alternative forms of transit, other than driving cars, to the festival. It all adds up to substantial community benefit,” says Jenny Diersen, the Park City Special Events and Economic Development Project Manager. 

The two-way street factors into Park City waiving $180,000 of municipal fees for items like police, transit and residential mitigation for each festival. Carrying over into the new agreement is free admission for Summit County residents on Friday night. New for 2024 and beyond is free admission on locals’ night will be extended to Main Street employees regardless of where they live. 

There’s plenty to look forward to at the Kimball Arts Festival in the coming years, including more local artists, a more diverse selection of artists and attendees and a more sustainable program overall. In the meantime, check out one of the most fun events in Park City this summer or find more information at kimballartsfestival.org


Tony Gill
Tony Gillhttps://www.saltlakemagazine.com/
Tony Gill is the outdoor and Park City editor for Salt Lake Magazine and previously toiled as editor-in-chief of Telemark Skier Magazine. Most of his time ignoring emails is spent aboard an under-geared single-speed on the trails above his home.

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