If you pride yourself on being able to distinguish the personality of the 1982 Utah Arts Festival from the 1983 Utah Arts Festival, or the 1977 Utah Arts Festival from the 1976 Utah Arts Festival, you will immediately notice the distinctive flavor of the 1988 Utah Arts Festival.

If, on the other hand, you are one of the confused who can't even remember which of those years you went to the festival, let us help you.The 1988 Utah Arts Festival is a fine arts festival. It says so right there on page 9 of the festival brochure: "It's an earnestness about fine art, a tribute to art with intrinsic merits."

This new trek toward the lofty is inspired by Utahns' more serious approach to art, the brochure says. This year's festival features "serious, provocative, even educational fine art."

Ten visual arts booths have been added on South Temple to expand the roster of invited artists. In addition, the Union Pacific Depot will house 51 pieces from the State Fine Art Collection dating back to 1898.

But don't be intimidated by the fineness or the earnestness of it all. The standard fare of the festivals of the past is still there. Regional jewelry seems to dominate the booths - metal jewelry, painted porcelain, leather jewelry, gems. It's all there. There are booths for hunting knives, porcelain, ceramics and earthenware. There are hand-carved and hand-painted wooden toys. There are T-shirts with unusual silk-screen designs, dry-flower arrangements and hand-woven baskets.

The crowd was modest on the first afternoon of the festival. Pricey lemonade and shaded lunch tables couldn't counter the muggy heat. Children romped in the Children's Art Yard, where face painting began its annual ascent to popularity.

Trends got their due. One booth featured neon art, including a BYU insignia, a BMW insignia and a sign that said, "Bates Motel." The art runs from $175 to $900.

And if you homeowners aren't ready for neon art over the couch, think of it as a reading light. "It adds a nice light to the home you don't normally get with incandescent bulbs," artist David K. Brimley pointed out.

If you prefer elegant lighting, you need soft drum music to accompany it. Michael Thiele carves beautiful wooden drums that look like hollow, oblong boxes with designs carved on top.

"The Aztecs used to make them. But Aztatlan closed, so I make them now," he said. He uses exotic hard woods because "there aren't any domestic woods that really have a nice ring."

He varies the sound of the drum by varying the length, width and thickness of the tongues that form the design on top.

Nine youngsters gathered in fascination as he played a haunting, melodic beat on the drums with specially made mallets.

Some of the art at the festival is pricey.

"How much are these?" a little boy asked, pointing to four porcelain goblets on a tray.

"They are $60 for two or $100 for four," the artist replied.

"Oh," the little boy said.

"I take checks or credit cards," the artist encouraged.

"Well, maybe I'll be back," the youngster said and fled.

Here's a schedule of events Thursday evening and Friday at the festival:

Linda King Newell, "Emma Hale Smith: Mormon Enigma," Literary Booth.

2-4 p.m. - Allen Kent Powell, "The Next Time We Strike," Literary Booth.

3-4 p.m. - Renaissance Chamber Ensemble, classical masters, Park Stage.

4-6 p.m. - Francois Camoin, "Deadly Virtues," Literary Booth.

4:30-5:30 p.m. - Mountain Dogs, newgrass, Park Stage.

6-7 p.m. - Gross National Product, rock-jazz, Park Stage.

6-8 p.m. - Carol Poster, G. Barnes, poets, Literary Booth.

6-8 p.m. - Lori Mehan, ceramics, Demonstrating Stage.

6:30-7:30 p.m. - Children's Dance Theater, Amphitheater Stage.

7-8 p.m. - Vince Frates, jazz pianist, Plaza Stage.

7-8 p.m. - Trickster Tales, featured storyteller, Children's Art Yard.

8-9 p.m. - Eastern Arts Dance, dance of Asia, Amphitheater Stage.

8:30-9:30 p.m. - Utah Symphony, Plaza Stage.

9:30-10:30 p.m. - A Company of Four, theater and dance, Amphitheater Stage.

10-11 p.m. - Saliva Sisters, Plaza Stage.

Friday

Noon-2 p.m. - Tactango, pop/rock, Park Stage.

Noon-12:30 p.m. - Briant Matheson, stick sculpture, Demonstration Stage.

1-2 p.m. - Hogle Zoo Docent, Children's Art Yard.

1:30-2:30 p.m. - Chris Proctor, acoustic guitar, Park Stage.

2-4 p.m. - George Janecek, "The Other Utahns," Literary Booth.

2:30-4:30 p.m. - Pioneer Craft House, puppet workshops, Children's Art Yard.

3-4 p.m. - Dave Bennet Band, jazz, Park Stage.

4-6 p.m. - Jessie Embry, "Mormon Polygamist Families: Life in the Principle," Literary Booth.

4:30- 5:30 p.m. - Stray, mainstream jazz, Park Stage.

6-7 p.m. - Oquirrh Ridge Drifters, bluegrass music, Park Stage.

6-8:30 p.m. - Ben Benedict/George Taylor, stained glass, Demonstrating Stage.

6:30-7:30 p.m. - International Folk Ballet, folk dances, Amphitheater Stage.

7-8 p.m. - Utah Mining Stories, storyteller, Children's Art Yard.

7-8 p.m. - Tempo Timers, R&B with guest Terry Hanck, Plaza Stage.

8-9 p.m. - Repertory Dance Theater, "Mixin' It Up," Amphitheater Stage.

8:30-9:30 p.m. - Daniel Lentz, national performing artist, Plaza Stage.

9:30-10:30 p.m. - Utah Regional Ballet, Amphitheater Stage.

10-11 p.m. - Fattburger, national performing artists, Plaza Stage.