What a weekend.
The 44th edition of Arts in the Park happened June 15-16. This year’s event is hardly over and we are looking to next year already. Many don’t realize that we work on Arts in the Park almost year round. After the event, we make notes of things that happened, what we can do to improve the event, tabulate the evaluations that we ask the exhibitors to complete, put away items used over the weekend and maybe try to take an afternoon off to rest. Things may sit for a few months but in December, the guidelines and applications are reviewed for corrections, things that need to be clarified and prepared to be printed. Volunteers help us in January prepare the mailing of the applications. We mail out around 500 applications to people who have been in the Festival in the past, those who have requested to be on the list and others who we have encountered at other Festivals that we think would be a nice addition to our show. I have attended Art and Craft shows in Nebraska, North Dakota, Minnesota and South Dakota where I have visited with exhibitors about our show. Applications are due back on March 15. This year was the first year that we offered the exhibitors the opportunity to apply on line.
As applications are returned, they are reviewed to be sure they have included the requested photos of their work and of their creation process (how they actually create the items), insurance and payment. A jury comprised of 7-8 people comes together to review each and every application. The jury is tasked with inviting only the finest of arts and crafts into the show. This process can be difficult because of poor quality photos and/or descriptions submitted. Notifications are sent out by April 10.
Musical entertainment is contracted for the weekend, with efforts made to change it up from the previous year, arrangements for the big festival tent, porta-potties and communications with Melgaard Park staff all start happening. Booth assignments are completed and instructions for load in are emailed to each exhibitor the end of May.
The third full weekend in June arrives. First thing Friday morning we are at the park marking booth spaces. Exhibitors are waiting patiently to begin set up at 1:00 on Friday afternoon. They provide everything needed for their booth. By Friday night about 9:00, most of the booths are set up. The event happens rain or shine. And this year we had plenty of both! We work closely with the National Weather Service to know what the weather is doing and alert the exhibitors of any bad weather that may be coming. As the event concludes on Sunday, a crew of volunteers help with traffic during the load out process. Only so many vehicles and trailers can fit into the park at one time. Generally within two hours after closing, the park is empty and other than picnic tables scattered around and matted grass, you would never know that over 120 art/craft and food exhibitors as well as 18,000-20,000 people had been in the park over the weekend.