On the Fourth of July, 2006, about a year and a half after my husband, baby daughter and I had moved to the Methow Valley, we were passing through Twisp on our way to visit friends in eastern Washington when we noticed what appeared to be a parade on Glover Street. Our daughter was then just two days shy of 2 years old — a perfect age for parade-watching — so we pulled over and joined the crowds on the sidewalk.
When the parade finished the crowd did not disperse; instead, people moved en masse down to the Twisp River Park, where most of you can probably guess what we discovered: Arts Fest. The annual Methow Arts is a delight even when you know what to expect — visual and performing arts, food, creativity in many forms — but it’s truly a treat when you experience it for the first time, especially when caught unaware.
After our first magical experience at Arts Fest, we never missed another one, initially because it was such an incredible event, and later because for many years I was part of the Methow Arts team that helped make it happen — along with the 100-plus volunteers that are one of the most critical components of Arts Fest. (I believe Methow Arts still needs a handful of volunteers for the event, if you’re interested in filling one of those roles.)
As the festival has evolved over the past almost 40 years, some aspects of Arts Fest are constant from year to year, while other features change. The pie-eating contest, for example, was added only about eight years ago; now it’s a fixture. This year, the costume contest makes its debut, and with Arts Fest’s “Outer Space” theme, the possibilities are, well, infinite.
This year TwispWorks will serve as the third venue in Arts Fest’s history, after Mack Lloyd Park in the early years, then the Twisp River Park in recent times. Arts Fest this year may look a bit different, but it will largely feel the same: a stellar stage line-up, opportunities to make art, yummy local food and drinks, a celebration of imagination and creativity unlike any other in the Methow Valley — it’s truly an all-day feast for the senses.
Behind the scenes at Arts Fest there are a thousand details that are all essential to the festival’s success. From booking performers to renting tents to making sure there are scissors at each of the art-making booths that require cutting, each item on a checklist is important to the event.
But, as is true for so many of the events in the Methow Valley, the most critical component of Arts Fest is the community. Arts Fest began when a group of artists and art enthusiasts in the Methow Valley had a vision and made it a reality. Arts Fest endures because our community continues to show up for it, whether as volunteers or as regular attendees. Either way, it’s our valley’s most prominent endorsement of the role the arts play in our lives and an opportunity to reinforce the value we place on the arts. I hope to see you there.