The 22nd annual Moab Arts Festival blossoms into a festival-of-festivals this year, adding a wine-and-beer festival, a second music stage and nationally recognized musical artists, plus the Grassroots Shakespeare troupe to the traditional fine-arts and crafts expo at Swanny City Park on Saturday and Sunday, May 24 and 25.
“This is part of our vision, to really expand the definition of what the arts festival celebrates,” said Melissa Schmaedick, the founder and producer of the Moab Folk Festival and now music-coordinator for the arts festival.
“This is a new way of getting more people to come to the park and look at the art,” said Theresa King, the Moab Arts Festival executive director.
Joining the nearly 100 artists and artisans will be 10 breweries, two wineries and a cheese company for Saturday’s first annual Moab Beer Festival. Local companies—the Moab Brewery, Castle Creek and Spanish Valley wineries—will be among the regional flavors offered.
A $25 entrance fee buys participants a sampling cup and five tastings to choose from 30 beers, eight wines and a plethora of cheeses. Extra tastings can be purchased for a $1 a ticket.
“It’s a tasting festival,” said Michael Miller, general manager at Moab Brewery and organizer of the beer-and-wine festival as well as the beer and wine garden that will be open both days of the festival.
“We’ve featured a couple of headliners toward the end of the tasting just to add to the experience of the tasting,” he said of the musical performances scheduled during the festival.
Schmaedick said the festival came up with the idea of having two stages when it found out it would be working with the beer and wine festival.
On both days, musical artists are scheduled to perform on either the park’s existing pavilion stage or a temporary stage that will be set on the southwest side of the park, called both the band-stage and the beer stage in the festival guide.
“The first day is focused on an upbeat, bluegrassy, almost rockabilly sound,” Schmaedick said of the performers’ schedule for the beer stage. “The idea is to have, Saturday afternoon and into the early evening, upbeat, highly-danceable music on that stage. And then Sunday, we’ll shift to a slightly different tone on the beer-stage and that will be an almost jazzy-bluesy type of feel.”
Starting at about 2 p.m. each day, The beer stage will feature both local talent—like the Eric Jones Trio on Saturday, and regional talent—like Colorado-based Grammy Award-winner Mollie O’Brien, and her husband, Rich Moore, on Sunday.
“The pavilion stage is geared toward family and community-type of performances,” Schmaedick said.
That music starts Saturday with Moab Taiko Dan, a group of Taiko drummers that have performed around Moab since 1995. Singer and song-writer Kate MacLeod closes the pavilion performances on Sunday.
“It’s amazing who we were able to get with the limited budget,” Schmaedick said. “A lot of these performers have come to the Folk Festival before. They know the community and they’ve had a good experience.”
At the center of the added excitement are the arts and crafts that have drawn thousands of people to Moab and Swanny City Park for over two decades. Wearable art, textiles, photography, pottery, and more will be presented by over 70 different artists from the Four Corners states and beyond.
Grassroots Shakespeare will also return this year, performing “As You Like” and “Henry V” both Saturday and Sunday. This traveling ensemble of actors roughly recreates an Elizabethan touring company, using a lightweight portable set and a small group of actors playing multiple roles and working collaboratively to create the show without a director.
Kids who feel inspired to make their own art can head over to the Kids Art Tent. Volunteers from various community organizations will be on hand to tie-dye shirts, paint faces, and more.
“It’s always what I wanted,” King said. “I wanted all of these different partners to tie this together and do other things with the arts festival.”
Moab Arts Festival expands in 22nd year to include partnership with wine and beer fest
“It’s amazing who we were able to get with the limited budget. A lot of these performers have come to the Folk Festival before. They know the community and they’ve had a good experience.”
What: Moab Arts Festival
When: Saturday and Sunday, May 24 and 25
Where: Swanny City Park
Cost: Admission is free