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Park City
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Kimball Arts Fest Celebrates 50th Anniversary and Original Artist

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KPCW Radio
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In the summer of 1969 – the summer of Woodstock and the first-ever moon landing,  Park City staged its first arts festival on Main St. KPCW’s Leslie Thatcher reports that one of the those who attended that first year was invited back this year – to sell his art that has been popular throughout the years.

Kevin “Storm” Rockwood has created ink and colored pencil drawings of most of the places he’s visited around the world – from the slopes of Deer Valley to the red rocks of Southern Utah and the deserts of Africa. He brought 400 of his drawings of his worldly adventures to the 2019 arts festival and, on Friday night was pretty confident he would sell them all.

Rockwood was a young artist who had just graduated from the art  and architecture school at the University of Utah when he first attended the Park City Arts festival in 1969.  Then, he came back the next two years as a festival artist.

“The first year was so successful we sold all of them. I did maybe 50 of them and they all sold,” Rockwood said. “It was like $50 – we sold them all - we did so well , it was like $4000 and as a young student out of school is like that was money. And so,  - we decided to do it the second year -  we did the same thing and then after second year then I was off to the world doing other things.”

While his preferred medium has remained the same, participating in the arts festival has changed a lot. Today, there’s a lot of paperwork to fill out – tents are used instead of card tables and folding chairs… His longevity in the festival meant he got to bypass the application process this year.

“I couldn’t have got in here if I was a normal artist  – I ‘m an artist but I don’t sell artwork,” he said. “They ask questions like, what galleries represent your art work?  Who do you display with or what shows have you been in? Zero. Zero. Zero. But they like my artwork so much that they said we want you in our show  because it’s our 50th reunion.”

In celebration of the 50th anniversary of the arts festival, full time year round Summit County residents were invited to enjoy all three days of the festival for free, as long as they registered online and picked up a wristband at the art center before arriving on Main St.

Kimball Arts Center Communications Director Amy Roberts says it was been a big success, reaching almost twice the number of locals than they’ve seen in the past, when only Friday night was free to residents.

“In the past, locals’ night which used to be Friday from 5:00 to 9:00, four hours, roughly we saw about 4500 locals come through and at that time also included second homeowners,” Roberts said. “As you know this year, we decided to make this year round resident local benefits for all 3 days and we had about 7500 people register online in advance for those tickets. So, that's a big jump for sure which were thrilled to see that.”

They're using  a new tracking system and there were some hiccups on Friday morning when there was a rush on wristbands.

“If you wait to the last minute to pick up your wristband that’s maybe something that's going to happen, so that's why we opened this process up on July 15th for people to come pick up their wristband, so you would have ample time,” Roberts said. “But regardless, ultimately I don't think 15 minutes is probably… we’re giving away something for free and I'm sorry if people had to wait. This is our first year and we've learned  how to do it and have a have a system down and hopefully you know at the end of the day it was worth it.”

With electronic chips in the wristbands, she says they will have some very accurate data to use in coming years.

“And that actually is going to help us to have real hard core numbers as opposed to anecdotal data,” said Roberts. So, in the past, we were kind of like, ‘oh it feels busy at this time and this time so we need more police presence or we need more people volunteers working the gates or whatever,’ but now we're gonna have actual data to back that up as opposed to office folklore that’s been handed down as to when the busy hours are. And that just really helps us to plan better for future festivals.”

Because the arts festival is the Kimball Art Center's biggest fundraiser of the year,  sponsorship dollars helped offset the loss of local ticket sales.