Park City’s Kimball Arts Festival July 31 – August 2 

When I was a child, one of the biggest events each summer in my small town was “Art in the Park.” It loomed large for me, my parents looked forward to it, there was always music in the gazebo at the park’s center, and the entire town seemed to turn out to stroll through booth after booth, where artists displayed their work.

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When Jeffrey and I first moved to Park City, our arrival coincided with the Park City Kimball Arts Festival. I was thrilled, especially when I discovered that it was an even bigger affair than that of my own hometown. The show takes over all of Historic Main Street, hosts artists from all over the world, while still including a lot of local artists. It’s a thrill for me to see which of my friends are in the show each year, in part because when I visit their booths, I can see others appreciate their work as much as I do.

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It’s no surprise to me that all of these years later, I greet the first weekend of August with eager anticipation, as the Park City Kimball Arts Festival (July 31 – August 2), rolls into town. Our children have attended the festival in baby carriers, strollers and backpacks, growing into walkers who stood in awe at the foot of giant, moving sculptures.

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Art has a multi-generational appeal and the Kimball takes a lot of pride in making sure there is something for the whole family. From including large format sculptures in a sort of “garden” on Heber Avenue, to the shaved ice vendors and a variety of food vendors with tastes for almost every palate (we’re partial to the kosher hot dogs at Java Cow), to creating interactive experiences for kids. In fact, there’s a hands-on center for on-the-spot art projects (design-a-hat, tie-dye shirts, clay molding), and a “treasure hunt” with clues that can be answered by visiting various artists’ and sponsors’ booths, that help foster an appreciation for the arts in kids. In fact, I give the treasure hunt credit for serving as a great ice-breaker for my kids to get used to talking to artists about their work.

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Often—by arrangement or by chance—some of our family visitors are in town for the art festival. Last year, one set of doting grandparents was in town, and both Lance and Seth undertook a photography project all their own. Then snapped photos of each other, of all of us, and asked each artist what inspired their work, and whether it was okay for them to photograph pieces that made an impression on them. More than once, the kids asked detailed questions about technique, and each artist took the time to answer in the kind of detail that only stoked the fire of curiosity. Of course, part of this project involved the camera on my phone, so I was able to see, nearly instantly, how they captured the spirit of the day.

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What I found was a creative and playful photo essay of our “Day at the Kimball.” It made me wonder what other families do to engage their kids at the festival and in the art world in general. It made me wonder how my kids will approach the festival this year. So, if you see us wandering through the booths, trailing our smartphone-photographer kids, stop us, say hi, and tell us about your favorite part of the Kimball Arts Festival this year. See you on Main Street!

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