The 37th Smoky Hill River Festival has kicked off with a concert tonight followed by events all day Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.
We lived for six years in Salina, and every year, I was surprised and amazed by the wealth of art, crafts, music, and food. Delicious, delicious fair-style, food-truck food. Funnel cake for breakfast? Don’t mind if I do. Turkey leg as big as my face? Sure!
Art installations are scattered around the park, and there’s a fine art show and demonstrations along with tents with activities for kiddos, like craft making and face painting. One of my favorite memories from River Fest (along with the blur of good food, good friends, and good music) was finding a drawing with my brother that we wanted to get for my dad for his birthday. It was an ink drawing that was reversible – flip it one way and it told one story, the other way and it told another – from despair to hope just on the perspective of the image.
It was around $50, which for us, as high school students who mowed lawns for cash, was a lot of money. We spotted it on a Sunday, the last day of the festival, and we thought it would be just about the coolest gift we could come up with. Far and above the gifts of stapled together coupon books (1 free hug for Dad. 1 session of washing dishes).
We scraped together the $50 and came running back, hoping that the artist hadn’t sold the painting yet. He hadn’t, but we weren’t yet in the clear. We’d neglected to think through the additional amount for tax. We looked at each other in dismay – we’d lost after all. But the artist (I wish I remembered his name!) took pity on us and waived the tax. The drawing still hangs in our parent’s house today. It was a simple thing, but the kindness of the artist, when he could have just shrugged his shoulders and said sorry, has stayed with me.
Every hour throughout the weekend starting from 10am and running through the evening, there will be music performances, with the main events happening at Eric Stein stage on Friday and Saturday night. Check out the full schedule here.
Where: Oakdale Park at South Second and Mulberry. Parking and free shuttle service at Bicentennial Center
When: Gates open on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday mornings at 9:30am
Cost: A River Fest button is required, and they’re $15 at the gate if you didn’t get one ahead of time. The button gets you into all 3 days. Kids 11 and under get in FREE!
What’s your favorite River Festival memory? Let us know in the comments!