At Swanny City Park this weekend, be ready.
Not only is it the second weekend for the Moab Recreation & Aquatic Center’s outdoor pool to be open, it’s also Memorial Day Weekend.
And it’s the start of the Moab Arts Festival.
The two-day event could bring in as many as 8,000 people.
Couple that Saturday with the Farmer’s Market, which will run as usual from 8 a.m. to noon, in the southeast corner of the park, with the Transp*ART*tation Art Car parade that winds up at the park after a 10 a.m. departure from the Center Street ball fields and you’ve got, well, a lot of activity.
But the more the merrier, right?
The Moab Arts Festival is a not-for-profit organization and free community event that supports artists, fosters creativity and provides a venue that encourages awareness, participation and appreciation of the arts.
In its 20th year, the festival will feature 130 artists from around Utah, Colorado and elsewhere (as far away as Texas), said organizer Gayle Weyher. They’ll be showing off and selling original work that will include paintings, photography, jewelry, pottery and wood and metal works.
Also on the agenda throughout the weekend is live music, kids activities and food.
The festival is definitely a big deal, Weyher said, and it’s an event that has been a year in the making.
“Our idea is that art is for everyone – that’s the real key,” she said. “Art is sometimes looked at as an elite thing. But you can bring yourself to it.”
Many in Moab are artists or related to the art world somehow, she said. This event is designed to help promote them and their work but also to cultivate an appreciation for art among the general public.
Moab, for many, is an ‘artosphere,’ she said.
“It’s a great venue because it’s such a gorgeous setting,” she said. “We live in a geography of art.”
Castle Valley artist Yrma van der Steenstraeten has taken part in the Arts Festival the past four years.
She agrees this area is an inspiration. The rock formations and the colors have influenced her work, she said.
And participating in the Arts Festival is a nice way to be part of the community.
“I just like the overall feel of it,” van der Steenstraeten said. “It’s a lot of people coming together with all kinds of art, and the music, of course, is an art form, too. It’s just a total community event.”
Photographer David Eggeling and his brother, James, have participated in the Arts Festival for seven years.
As local artists, they want to support the local festival, David Eggeling said. But even if they weren’t local, they’d still do the show.
“They put on an outstanding show for such a small town,” he said. “It does have a very festive feel – from the taiko drummers to the live music. We do shows in a lot of other towns, particularly some fancy Colorado towns. I would say Moab is really one of the most entertaining shows in the southwest. We really look forward to it.”
And even if they weren’t artists, the Eggelings would stop by the festival to peruse the art, eat the food and check out the live music, David Eggeling said.
Organizers hope others feel the same way.
Said Weyher: “It’s an opportunity. We live in this isolated place and here is this big thing that can enrich you.”