From paintings of the mountains to benches made with birdhouses, this year’s Arts in the Park offered anyone who ventured out to County Park on Saturday and Sunday a colorful variety of things to buy, see and eat. Artists, both local and from out of state, packed the park with booths for the event in hopes of catching eyes and wallets with unique items, oftentimes handmade by the artist themselves.
According to Irene Bachman, the trip to Ely from her hometown of Phoniez to sell her handmade “patio chandeliers” is worth it because the attendees of Ely’s Arts in the Park festival don’t just window shop.
“I love coming to Ely. People up here are good shoppers and they support the artists, which has kept me coming back for several years now,” Bachman said.
It’s not uncommon for artists to travel from outside of Nevada just to participate in Ely’s annual event. For some artists, such as Lavar and Dixie Lougy, the event has become a yearly pilgrimage from their hometown in Tooele, Utah, to sell their lawn “whirlygigs,” or wooden lawn decorations painted to look like animals or cartoon characters that move in the wind.
“We don’t do too many craft shows but we like coming here because of the people and the atmosphere,” Lavar Lougy said, who added that this year’s event marked their twentieth year coming to Ely to sell their work.
There was more to do than just go shopping for artwork, however, as food trucks selling chili fries, barbecue chicken wings and frozen yogurt drew big lines from those in attendance. City of Ely Mayor Melody Van Camp said sales were up for her funnel cakes, which have become a staple of festival.
“I’ve been a part of Arts in the Park ever since it started 27 years ago, and this was the first year that I actually ran out of food. We were just that busy,” Van Camp said.
Though she spent most of her time alongside her husband Gary Tull and sister Janet Van Camp making her self-proclaimed “fabulous” funnel cakes, the mayor did get a little bit of time to walk around and see the other booths. What she saw in her walk was an encouraging amount of younger people at this year’s festival.
“I don’t know that I have ever seen so many young people out at the park, it was great,” she said.
Annette Marshall, chair for the Bristlecone Arts Council, called this year’s Arts in the Park a “total success.” According to Marshall, there were 90 vendors present, which was down just marginally front the 93 vendors from last year.
“We had a fabulous turnout on Saturday. There is no real way for us to track how many people showed up but it was difficult to walk down the concourse on Saturday because there were so many people,” Marshall said.
Marshall said she also has plans to grow the number of vendors for future events by creating a website and using it to reach out to more artists.