Festival marks 26 years of art, music and fun

The 26th annual Moab Arts Festival will take place this Saturday and Sunday, May 27 and 28. The event will feature some familiar and local faces, but for the first time will host a lineup of well-known blues artists.

“The arts festival is a great event in and of itself, and to offer free music to the community Saturday and Sunday is a really great opportunity,” said Melissa Schmaedick, president of the Friends of the Moab Folk Festival and music organizer for the arts festival. “This is the first opportunity I’ve been able to put together a really coherent schedule of blues music.”

Schmaedick said she believes she’s curated a group of artists Moab will be excited to see. “We’ve tried to focus on blues bands that have a high level of recognition within their communities and within the blues circles,” she said. “Tony Holiday has been in the music scene for over 15 years and has toured widely and has a lot of recognition for his harmonica and harp skills.”

The event also features Taylor Scott, who has toured internationally, Cass Clayton, who has won awards from the National Blues Society, and AJ Fullerton, who Schmaedick describes as a “powerful up-and-comer from Colorado.”

“We’re also going to bring in Pixie and the Partygrass Boys,” Schmaedick said. “They’re from the Wasatch Front and super popular in Salt Lake, but are fairly popular around here. They’ve played at Woody’s multiple times.”

In an effort to collaborate with other businesses and organizations in town, Holiday, Scott and Fullerton will be playing not only at the festival, but also at the Blu Pig throughout the weekend.

“We’ve got some crossover into the local watering holes,” explained the festival’s founder and organizer Theresa King. “Now it’s evolved into more of a partnering with community arts organizations.” The event is joining hands with the Moab Valley Multicultural Center, which will host several performances throughout the weekend, including Native American hoop dancers.

Schmaedick added, “I think it’s also really important to give a nod to our locals,” noting that the festival will feature a multitude of local talent in music, jewelry, fine art and more. The David Steward Jazz Quartet will be performing Saturday morning, followed by Moab Taiko Dan in the afternoon, and local band Quicksand Soup on Sunday morning. Musical artists will be joined by a number of local creative and visual artists, showing off Moab talent from jewelry to photography and more.

The event will also feature a kids’ tent, which will allow children from third to eighth grade to “purchase” donated art with a $5 bill that will be handed to them. “We want to teach children how to become art patrons,” King explained.

The festival is free and open to the public on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and on Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Live music will begin at 10:30 a.m. and attendees will be able to visit art booths and food trucks throughout the event. A beer garden will be open on Saturday and Sunday from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m.

More information and a complete lineup of artists, musicians and venues can be found at moabartsfestival.org.

ByBy Jacque Garcia

The Times-Independent