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Quakertown Park prepped for Arts & Jazz Festival

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Staff report

Sounds of trumpets, saxophones and jazz tunes will flow from Quakertown Park when the Denton Arts & Jazz Festival kicks off today.

Pete Brewer will be the first artist to play the festival at 2:30 p.m. Friday, starting the three-day festival featuring more than 2,000 musicians, artists and performers from across the country.

In addition to the legendary national and local acts performing across seven stages, kids’ areas offer learning opportunities, and booths for crafters and creators feature clothing, jewelry, paintings and other handmade items.

“We just encourage everyone to come out and participate,” said Kevin Lechler, assistant director of the festival. “It’s a community event — it’s by the community and for the community, so we want everyone to be out here.”

The Denton parks department has prepped the area for the event and is ready for the more than 200,000 expected to visit the park over the next three days.

Parks superintendent John Schubert said the city has learned over the years how to prepare Quakertown Park for the large crowds.

“In some spots, we know that some booths, year after year, have a lot of traffic, so we go ahead and mulch those areas,” Schubert said.

They seed with ryegrass, which grows over the winter, and keep mulch on hand so that if it rains or an area gets wet, they can mulch to help keep the ground from getting compacted.

Crews cut back on watering at the park, too, so the ground can better withstand the kind of compaction that makes it hard for the grass to grow.

They also fence off the plantings and flowers to help keep them in good shape through the event.

And, Schubert said, they work with the Denton Festival Foundation on the placement of some booths to add another layer of protection to the park’s soft but valuable assets.

Then, as soon as they can — this year it will probably be after the Cinco de Mayo festival next weekend — they will water and feed the plants.

“We really try to give them as much tender loving care as we can,” Schubert said.

Safety is also a top concern for the event.

Officer Ryan Grelle said Denton police just want everyone coming out to enjoy the festival in a safe environment.

“We will have a strong police presence during the Denton Arts & Jazz Fest to make sure all vendors and visitors will have a fun and safe time while visiting Denton,” said Grelle, a spokesman for the department.

During last year’s festival, organizers said 225,000 attendees were present to experience the music, food and artistry.

During that time, Grelle said only 29 tickets were written at the festival. But officers don’t walk around with ticket books in hand, he added.

Organizers are asking attendees to not bring coolers. Alcohol is sold on festival grounds.

In addition, while many Denton events are known to be dog-friendly, because of the massive crowds, only service animals are allowed at the event.

Now that it’s ready, Quakertown Park will start to fill out this afternoon and at 9 p.m., Grammy-winning vocalist Al Jarreau is set to perform.

The National Weather Service is currently predicting a 30 percent chance for thunderstorms Saturday night and Sunday, which Lechler said he and the city will monitor closely.

“We’ll be watching the weather,” he said. “The forecast has changed about four or five times since Wednesday, so we’ll just continue to watch it.”

Staff writers Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe, Jenna Duncan and Megan Gray contributed to this report.