Art in the Park. Blackburn News file photo.Art in the Park. Blackburn News file photo.

Art in the Park follows two-year hiatus with big success

Looking back on the success of this past weekend's "Art in the Park," the event co-chair suggested organizers may be open to staying open later.

With full shuttle buses and long lineups, the Rotary Club of Windsor 1918 said 40,000 people came out to Willistead Park on Saturday and Sunday.

That is the highest number in the event's history.

The hours on Saturday are 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday, but Allan Kidd doubts organizers will want to bring back a Friday night.

"Good response to that, but it was costly," he explained. "I think based on what happened this year, we would consider expanding the hours a little bit."

It was a banner weekend for the vendors. The club said sales far surpassed any show for years, and one vendor had to return home to get more inventory after selling out on Saturday.

Kidd credited pent up demand for events like Art in the Park and the sunny, warm weather. However, he felt the success was bittersweet. Many vendors who had been with the event since the beginning could not make it this year.

"So many members of our artist community have suffered during COVID, like everybody. We definitely lost quite a number," he said. "They were easily replaced -- but it was kind of sad to lose some of those people that had been there from the beginning."

For those frustrated by the long lineups at the front gates, Kidd admitted the club might take another look at its payment method.

"I think we could have done a little bit more to facilitate the entrance," said Kidd, pointing out this was the first year Art in the Park used a digital form of payment called "Tap and Go." "There's some wrinkles there to be ironed out for next year."

He also hopes the community remembers Art in the Park is not like other events. With a small army of 100 volunteers, organizers raise money for both local and global projects. Over the past 44 years, it's raised $1.3-million for restoration efforts at Willistead Manor. Another $2-million has supported Rotary's projects in developing countries, like drilling new wells and building schools.

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