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Creativity soon to fill park

Profile image for By Megan Gray / Staff Writer
By Megan Gray / Staff Writer

Organizers gear up for Arts & Jazz Festival

If you are an arts enthusiast of any kind, next weekend’s Denton Arts & Jazz Festival will be right up your alley.

The free festival, which starts Friday, is expected to attract more than 200,000 visitors over three days to Quakertown Park, where seven stages of entertainment will be scattered among endless rows of food and artist vendors.

Even the weather may cooperate this year. Only a 10 percent chance of rain is expected on Friday, with mostly sunny skies predicted for Saturday and next Sunday, with high temperatures in the 80s, according to early forecasts.

Carol Short, executive director for the nonprofit Denton Festival Foundation, which produces the yearly event, said each year is a new experience, with new craftsmen, musicians and the much-loved festival food.

Headline acts this year will include Al Jarreau, perhaps most popular for his 1980s hit “Mornin’,” on Friday, and six-time Grammy winners Asleep at the Wheel on Saturday.

“I’m so excited about Al Jarreau and his band,” Short said.

“We look for a group or performer that will attract many age groups — someone who is well-established so we can cross multiple platforms,” she said. “It could be someone you heard your parents playing growing up.”

Short said it’s a tradition on the Sunday of each festival to “bring it back home” with a finale by Denton’s own Grammy-winning performers Brave Combo.

This year guests will have the luxury of a second LED screen near the Wells Fargo/Budweiser Jazz Stage.

“Last year we added one and it was well received, so we decided we needed another to toggle either side of the stage in case one can’t get close up,” Short said.

The economic impact for a large festival such as the Arts & Jazz Festival could be in the millions of dollars, officials said.

Kim Phillips, vice president of the Denton Convention and Visitors Bureau, said while it’s hard to determine the exact amount of spending brought into the city by the festival, an accepted formula is to estimate that each visitor who attends will spend $25.

Based on that estimate, a turnout of 200,000 people would generate $5 million, with 2.5 percent of that — or $125,000 — going back to the city in sales tax, she said. The numbers don’t include exempt vendors, nonprofits and hotel tax.

“It’s very rewarding putting on this event and watching it impact so many,” Short said.

The festival is much more than just a music festival, however, organizers said.

The popular children’s tent with hands-on activities, rides and exhibits on display are just some of the many things visitors can see and do.

“We always mix it up each year,” Short said. “It’s more than music. The festival includes all the arts. It’s all about taking that platform and expanding to the next generation.”

MEGAN GRAY can be reached at 940-566-6885 and via Twitter at @MGrayNews.