For family-friendly fun, it's hard to beat the Smoky Hill River Festival. Set on the banks of the Smoky Hill River in Oakdale Park, "the Festival" takes place Thursday through Sunday on the second full weekend of June each year.
Few communities offer the River Festival's tantalizing menu of the arts all in one place at one time. From four live stages to the colorful Artyopolis children's area to two juried art shows and eye-catching outdoor art installations, the Festival has it all. The River Festival's relaxed setting invites you to "picture yourself" there as summer unfolds, to unwind and experience something new.
Festival weekend kicks off on Thursday, June 9 at 6 p.m. with the popular Festival Jam concert. Gates open at 4 p.m., so grab a seat under your favorite shade tree and enjoy supper from the Festival's more than 30 food vendors.
Friday morning from 10 a.m. on, a wide variety of low-cost activities in Artyopolis challenges children to exercise their imagination. Ten make-and-take Creation Crossing crafts and eight colorful Game Street storefronts surround young Festival-goers with activity and fun. The Four Rivers Craft Show and the Art Demonstration area featuring "how it's done" demos, also are open all day.
Early Saturday morning, Festival celebrating continues with the Festival Fitness Five races and walks while the Art Patron Breakfast takes place in the Park's formal garden. On Saturday and Sunday, the Fine Art Show joins the Four Rivers Craft Show to offer veteran collectors and first-time Festival art shoppers a wide range of choices and prices.
Each day, on the hour, four stages of stellar music steals the spotlight, offering crowd-pleasing genres including folk, jazz, classical, rock and funk. On the Arty's Stage and across the park, jugglers, puppeteers, and roving players elicit smiles and laughter from young and old.
As visitors cross over the Festival's five entrance bridges, they are encouraged to look up, over and out, as Festival art surrounds them. Each year, about 20 artists are commissioned to create site-specific works that meld art with Oakdale Park's natural outdoor beauty. From fabric-wrapped trees to floating artwork to murals in progress to painted landscapes, there's a lot to discover and enjoy.