Keeping Arts in the Park Fresh After 46 Years

Summer art festival runs from July 18-20 in Kalispell’s Depot Park

By Molly Priddy

Summer is the season of festivals in the Flathead. Nearly every weekend, residents and tourists alike can find locally made goods, fine art and live music to enjoy in the sunshine.

On July 18-20, the valley will enjoy one of the oldest and most popular summer festivals, when the Hockaday Museum of Art presents the 46th annual Arts in the Park, at Kalispell’s Depot Park.

Arts in the Park is the biggest fundraiser of the year for the Hockaday, which houses permanent art collections as well as traveling and local exhibits, and was created in 1969 with the mission of enriching the valley’s art scene.

Nearly 50 years later, the Hockaday is still pursuing that mission, and Arts in the Park is an integral part in achieving its goals, according to museum executive director Liz Moss.

Despite a solid base of museum supporters who pay for memberships, the museum needs more financial flow to keep its doors open.

“We need additional support,” Moss said. “(The money raised at Arts in the Park) is for operations and programs; basically, the membership doesn’t pay for all of it.”

Arts in the Park is one of the few juried art shows in the Flathead, with each artist and craftsperson selected through the museum based on their work. The artist list of more than 100 people includes local and regional talent, and past shows have included various media, such as oil and acrylic painting, fused-glass jewelry, photography, metal works, pottery, fabrics, wood, found objects and more.

Putting on a festival for 46 years also means having to keep it fresh and fun, and Moss said this year, festival goers will be able to enjoy new attractions.

There will be extended hours this year, with the days starting at 10 a.m. and ending at 7 p.m. to allow for the longer lineup of musicians to play into the evening, which includes local favorites Christian Johnson, Dan Dubuque, Nick Spear, Big Daddy Blues and more.

There will also be wine tasting opportunities coupled with appetizers from John’s Angels Catering, Moss said, allowing for a complete summertime experience.

“Arts in the Park is geared towards not only people who want to see the latest and greatest art but also people who want to relax with music and a glass of wine too,” she said.

Barry Conger of the Hockaday said the wine tasting would occur on Friday and Saturday and 1 p.m. and 5 p.m., and would include four regional wines and three microbrews that won’t be on the regular wine and beer list at the wine garden.

“With those there will be people there discussing the various qualities of the wine and the beers,” Conger said.

For $20, a participant will get four wine-tasting portions, three microbrew portions and meats and cheeses.

“This year we’re jazzing it up quite a bit with bistro tables and a nice little seating area with ambiance by the park,” Conger said.

The wine garden will open at 11:30  a.m. each day of the festival.

There are also new attractions for kids this year, in what Conger called a “true kid zone,” with a rock wall, a bungee-jumping apparatus, a photo booth from ImagineIF libraries, face painting and art projects.

A button to get into the festival for the whole weekend costs $5, and that button also gives the wearer admittance to the Hockaday throughout the weekend as well.

It’s one of the best values in the valley, Moss said.

Aside from bringing in much-needed funds for the museum, Arts in the Park is also another way the Hockaday works on fulfilling its mission of bringing more art into more people’s lives.

“Arts in the Park really is one of our outreach programs,” Moss said. “It’s all about audience development – bringing people into our area and exposing them to local and regional art.”

For more information on Arts in the Park, visit www.hockadaymuseum.org or call 406-755-5268.

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