If you were driving down Sun Valley Road last weekend, you may have noticed the pile of cars, bikes, strollers, booths and people gathering in the sunny Festival Meadows east of Ketchum. What started as a small asphalt gathering of makeshift tents circa 1999, has now become the 14th Annual Ketchum Arts Festival, held July 12-14.
This year, it brought in over 140 Idaho artists and somewhere around 10,000 attendees. Not to mention, live music, street tacos, beer/brats/burgers and even a free Kid’s Activity Tent.
“We are one of the bigger money-making events for locals in this town,” said Lisa Horton, the advertising and publicity director for the festival. “Based on the number of Local Option Taxes collected, we estimate sales were around $250,000 this year.”
With dozens of booths full of beaded jewelry, hand-painted Tom’s, wooden bowls, antler chandeliers, colorful windsocks, birdhouses, clay pottery, furniture, herbal medicines and more, the Ketchum Arts Festival was a tribute to our Valley’s gifted artisans.
“Our mission is very different from that of the Sun Valley Arts and Crafts Festival (which is one of the finest in the country, so some artists can’t depend on getting accepted),” said Lisa. “We want to support beginning artists and help them grow—find them advertising opportunities, edit their press releases, help with booth design and anything else that will make them successful.”
Each Board Member for the Ketchum Arts Festival, which consists of Lisa (who has been involved for over 10 years), EJ Harpham (Executive Director), Patty Holly (Treasurer), Tammy Shofield (Kid’s Tent), Dianne Taylor (Applications, Correspondence and Graphics) are all artists themselves, who volunteer in their free time to make this event possible year after year. “We all have other jobs,” said Lisa. “We just happen to think this is very important for the community.”
Any Blaine County resident is welcome to set up a booth, said Lisa, without being juried. The board will then select anywhere from 30 to 40 Idaho artists from outside the area, depending on space and availability. “It was started to be a festival for locals, and it still is,” she explained.
Locals like Andy Sewall, who is now partnering with his son Josh, to produce watercolors and hand-crafted steel gates. Or Julie Molema of Jam Designs, who, on top of making deliciously soft scarves and one-of-a-kind jewelry, is now developing a small clothing line. Or Lee Drake, who specializes in crowns, amulets/talismans and sacred adornment, and believes that jewelry should not only be pretty, but should “aid in helping us connect and remember who we really are.”
Dave Lamure Jr.’s bronze sculptures, inspired by Native American theology, and Classic Outdoor Design’s mahogany benches (also available in recycled skis), are just a few more examples of the talent and variety exhibited at the Ketchum Arts Festival.
If you missed this year, be sure to stop by the Festival Meadows next summer and support our local artists—grab some Toni's ice cream, kick back in a hammock and peruse the artwork that is inspirational, unique and 100% authentically Idaho.