The Smoky Hill River Festival was a success. Salina Arts & Humanities staff report that it has been a very smooth year, despite a brief turnaround after the 2021 festival last September.
The organization reports t15,688 bracelets were sold here, generating $210,575 in income, the highest in six years. Bracelet sales represent the festival’s largest source of income and provide the necessary funds to produce the event. While sales were strong, the final number of goals over the weekend was 48,001, compared to an average of 60,000 per year.
“A variety of factors can result in lower gate counts,” commented Salina Arts & Humanities Executive Director Brad Anderson. “We were thrilled that the revenue earned exceeded our budget. Overall, the festival has done well financially.” The remaining festival budget comes from other income and a third from cash contributions from private individuals, companies and charitable foundations.
Visual artists are doing well
One hundred and twenty fine art exhibitors displayed and sold works in the Fine Art and Craft Show and Art Demonstration Area. The growing Art Patron Program included Thursday night’s PREMIERE party, which was attended by 350 artists and buyers. Total sales for the 2022 Art Show and Art/Craft Demo area exceeded $420,000. Patron purchases are the single largest factor that drives artists to return to the event and promote the show to their peers. Thousands of visitors engaged with site-specific art installations by 23 artists. “There are very few festivals in the country that commission work at this level,” commented Anderson.
Varied music on three live stages delighted the festival visitors this year. From headliners Jason Boland & The Stragglers, Gangstagrass, SunDub and more, music genres for 2022 have included country, hip-hop, reggae, soul and bluegrass.
Early acts included Las Cafeteras from Los Angeles, The RT’s from New York City, Love out of Wichita and Armchair Boogie from Madison, WI. Clan Tynker wowed the audience on the children’s stage and throughout the park. Friends of the River Foundation’s Returning Drum Safari, Richard Renner and River Puppet Palooza were three of the eight itinerant acts entertaining festival fans of all ages.
Artyopolis welcomed over 2,000 children who participated in various craft activities under the Creation Crossing big tent. Everyone had family fun as adults and children lined up to get face paint and airbrush tattoos at Paintchoo Plaza. Game Street, newly decorated fiber art by artist Marideth Highsmith, was busy with family and friends vying for a high score.
At First Treasures, a program for young collectors, 466 children selected their own artworks from 98 participating artists. Many young art buyers visit artists at their booths to learn more about the art they create and sell.
Food in abundance
Festival fans enjoyed food row favorites and sampled new offerings from 10 new food vendors in 2022, including pineapple whip, boiled crawfish, sweet Thai pork tacos and the Texas Twister drink in a boot. Grocery sales from 35 vendors totaled $319,156 in groceries for different preferences. Grocery sales in 2022 were the highest in 13 years.
let it happen
Over 1,500 volunteers supported the event through committee work and individual shifts, managing the gates, caring for artists, enabling children to create and use their imaginations, and supporting festival operations and charity events. Volunteers continue to be an essential resource in keeping the festival affordable and providing top-notch customer service to thousands of attendees.
“We are thrilled with the overall result of the 46thth Smoky Hill River Festival,” says Anderson. “Salina’s pride and support ensure it continues to be one of the best in the country.”
The festival also benefits from the support of part-time seasonal festival staff and city staff in all departments. “Your ongoing commitment supports the long-term success of our event,” says Anna Pauscher Morawitz, Operations & Development Manager at Salina Arts & Humanities.
2023 plans are already underway
Festival staff and committees are already preparing for next year’s event. Based on the feedback from participants and patrons, extensive evaluations are carried out and detailed plans are drawn up. The 47thth The Smoky Hill River Festival will take place June 8-11, 2023 at Oakdale Park.
For information about attending the Smoky Hill River Festival or other Salina arts and spirits programs, call 785-309-5770, visit riverfestival.com, or email [email protected]