The Waukee Arts Festival took place in Centennial Park for the third year on Saturday, July 8, with a few changes from the last two years.
This year, the event was moved to Saturday, instead of taking place on Sunday, and they introduced beer sales and an evening concert, featuring the band, the Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. Additionally, they had 68 artists this year, up from 53 last year.
Cody Kilgore, President of the Waukee Area Arts Council, has been in charge of putting the event together for the last three years. He said that those things helped raise the attendance from years past.
“This even only works if you have good attendance and the artists can profit from the day, you know, come in and make money. Otherwise they won’t come back,” Kilgore said. “It’s kind of a circular fee. You need more artist to get more attendance and you need more attendance to keep the artists.”
Throughout the day in the park, there were art booths, food vendors and live solo musicians. Back again was Gerb’s Garage, a tent by artist Steve Gerberich, formerly from Waukee, that allowed children to bring out their creative side and piece together their own works of art.
Beth Ann Boyd, of Urbandale, said that after seeing some of the artists and having lunch from one of the food vendors, her kids were enjoying the chance to participate in the activities at the Gerb’s Garage tent.
“It allows the kids to be creative and use their imaginations,” Boyd said.
Kilgore said that event was going smoothly and that the artists and food vendors reported that they were making good money during the festival and were having good conversations with clients.
He said that his favorite part of the event is getting a chance to meet and talk with the artists that set up at the festival. He went on to describe the event as a “community.”
“The artists have all come to get to know each other, the organizers and the artists all know each other and everybody enjoys doing this festival,” Kilgore said. “It’s kind of a community and we all just make sure it happens.”
Some of the artists that participated in the Waukee Arts Festival were first-time participants at any art festival. Kilgore said that they want to be able to support those kinds of artists and have works of art available at more affordable costs for customers than at a bigger art festival.
“We’re never going to try to be the Des Moines Art Festival,” Kilgore said. “In fact, we say, we’re inclusive, accessible and we just want everyone to come here and find something that they feel they could either go home with or enjoy and appreciate.”
One of the first-time art festival participants in Waukee was Heather Marie Kindt. She said that the process for getting involved at the Waukee Arts Festival was very simple for a first-timer.
She said that she liked being able to talk with the people who stopped by her booth, especially the kids, and tell them how she made the things they were looking at.
“I like to share what went on to end up with the art piece that they’re looking at,” Kindt said.
There were two little girls that visited her booth and were fascinated so much with one of her pieces of art that she offered it to them for free.
“Selling art is like selling puppies, you want them to go to a good, happy home, where they’re loved and appreciated,” Kindt said. “You have to charge because it’s people’s livelihood. For me, it’s a second income so I just let those girls have that painting.”
The festival attracted artists from Minnesota, Wisconsin, Missouri, Illinois and Nebraska, in addition to from here in Iowa. Kilgore said that recruiting artists from other states is the result of networking and a social media campaign.
“I probably spend anywhere from 10 to 20 hours a week just trying to network and promote and recruit artists, as well as sponsors,” Kilgore said.