Utah Arts Festival readies for its return with more hands-on activities

By Erica Palmer

For the Deseret News

Published: Saturday, June 21 2014 8:30 p.m. MDT

A booth from Enjigo, a non-profit foundation that operates a "makerspace" in Salt Lake City, will feature art and technology.

"Enjigo is a collective of 'makers,'" said Jesse Gomez, the organization's president. "It's sort of a merger of industrial equipment and DIY attitudes. We get together and we don't just make art; we make machines and robots. We just like to make."

Gomez said he likes to think of art as an experience and not just a product. Enjigo will offer workshops at the festival and have its creations available for guests to play with.

One popular piece is the "makey-makey kit," which allows guests to use electrical wires and turn a normal household item into something completely different.

"You can have all sorts of interactive experiences that you never thought you could have," Gomez said. "Like touching a banana and having it make certain noises. It's weird."

Another new addition this year is the Culinary Arts section.

"I decided that I was tired of just selling food, because that's not very artistic," said Bob Raysor, a culinary artist and the director of the new section. "So we decided to make a whole program that is more artistic."

He said the program will highlight local "foodies" and give culinary students a chance to prepare and cater an entire menu for the festival.

"The culinary field in Salt Lake is really starting to increase," he said. "We get less chains and more individuality in the restaurants, and we are trying to incorporate that into the festival. We always try to involve the community, and we saw this as a great opportunity."

Sewell said one unique thing about the festival is that every section has enough to offer that it could potentially stand alone.

“If we took everything else aside and there was just the film, that in and of itself would be a big enough draw,” she said.

The festival will feature dozens of international short films, with the "Fear No Film" series, and will host 75 local bands and multiple headliners from various genres of music.

The stage venues will also feature street theater performers, from fire dances to hip hop competitions.

Returning to the festival for the first time since 2003 is “Australia’s Strange Fruit,” a performing group that Sewell said is “very mesmerizing.”

The performers stand on 5-meter poles and dance and swing out over the crowd, adding to the interactive element and allowing guests to really be inside the performance.

Mumm and Sewell agreed that one of the challenges with the festival is helping visitors organize their schedules to make sure they see what they want to see among the offerings.

But there’s an app for that.

“We have an app, which makes it really easy,” Sewell said. “You can go down and favorite what you want to see, and then you can set it up so you know where to go. So that’s kind of fun."

Tickets can be purchased at uaf.org before the festival or at the door.

If you go ...

What: Utah Arts Festival

When: June 26-29

Where: Library Square and Washington Square, 200 E. 400 South, Salt Lake City (See map here)

Cost: $10 for adults Thursday, $12 for adults Friday-Sunday, $6 for seniors, free for children 12 and under, package tickets available

Website: uaf.org

Phone: 801-322-2428

Erica Palmer is a writer for the Mormon Times and Features department. Contact her at epalmer@deseretnews.com or follow her on Twitter at erica_palmer.

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