Chrissy Noel Kinslow calls the Moab Arts Festival the “grandmother of all art in Moab.”
“The festival is like a breathing entity,” Kinslow said. “Some years it’s bigger, some years it’s smaller. This year, after having slept for two years, all the crafters and all the creative people have been hunkering down, and everyone’s now just ready to burst. This is going to be a fabulous year.”
Kinslow is the festival’s children’s art activities coordinator—last weekend, she was busy hand-drawing 224 sheets of paper for an eight-foot by eight-foot, paint-by-the-numbers mural of Delicate Arch. She’s spent the past few months coming up with new activities for the children’s area of the festival, which this year will include the mural, art show, kids art vendor booths, talent stage, and poetry slam.
The children’s area is just one piece of the festival: at its core, the Moab Arts Festival is a massive gathering of artists selling their wares, with food, live music, and entertainment to boot. This year, the festival will run on Saturday, May 28, and Sunday, May 29, at Swanny City Park from 10 a.m. to dusk.
Theresa King, the event organizer, has worked on the festival since its inception 30 years ago. She’s loved watching the festival grow into a true arts festival, she said, as the number of artisans has grown—and she’s enjoyed seeing other arts festivals pop up in Moab as well.
“It’s community building,” she said. “It has one of those audiences that will cross over—the people who come to this are half locals, half visitors. And it’s a true showcase that Moab is known for art.”
Artisans this year will sell works including fine art, sculpture, pottery, fiber and textiles, jewelry, photography, and glassworks. This year, Kinslow said, the festival expects over 50 artists from around the country, including 15 local artists like illustrator Holly Williams, jewelry-maker Molly McGovern, illustrator Jess Hough, and painter Riley Lubich. Many artisans return year after year, King said.
The Moab Arts and Recreation Center will also have a booth to teach festival-goers about indigo dye: anyone who stops by can dye and keep a free bandana. The indigo vat will be open from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Sunday.
Live music will run on both days. On Saturday, the Dave Steward Jazz Quartet will open the festival, followed by Moab Taiko Dan, the Fiery Furnace Marching Band, Our Space in Time, Meander Cat, and the local bluegrass band Quicksand Soup. On Sunday, the Family Trade will start the day, followed by Cozy Sheridan, Juniper Drive, The Railbirds, and Buried Giant.
The Grassroots Shakespeare Company is returning to the festival this year—the company is a “collaborative touring ensemble of multidisciplinary artists who create joyous, vibrant productions inspired by Shakespeare’s original staging techniques,” according to the Moab Arts Festival guide. The company will perform Cymbeline, a tragedy that tells the story of the British king Cymbeline, at 4 p.m. on Saturday. On Sunday at 4 p.m., the company will perform Romeo and Juliet.
There will also be live entertainment at the kid’s tent: Rick Boretti, a cornerstone of the Moab Backyard Theater, will put on a magic show each day at 11 a.m.
Food and drink will be available as well. Food vendors include lemonade from Whatasqueezz, snacks like nuts and beef jerky from Wild Wild West Distributing, wood-fired pizzas from Sweetwater Gypsies, gyros from Yia Yia’s Concessions, and ice cream from Tricicle. There will also be a beer and wine garden open from noon to 6 p.m. each day, with drinks from 98 Center, the Moab Brewery, and the Spanish Valley Vineyard and Winery.
“We want to give an invitation to everybody to come and enjoy their community,” King said.
The full list of artists and a complete schedule of events is available at www.moabartsfestival.org. Entry to the festival is free!