A little rain, a little wind, a lot of joy at Artown opener

Some great fun was had by yours truly. I needed to see what a free event at Wingfield Park was like. Were there traffic jams? [No] What’s the parking like? [I snagged a place on the street, but was plenty lucky to do so. There are plenty of parking garages around.] Can I take a folding chair and sit and see? [Yes, but of course the best spots go early.] What’s the weather like at 8pm when today’s high was 101°? [Very pleasant in a polo shirt and shorts… a light breeze.] Is there food? [Yes, see story] Port-a-potties with short or no lines? [Yes] I didn’t stay for the whole deal, but I’m glad I went and I’ll be back./m

The stage at Wingfield Park. You can almost see the rapids of the Truckee River on the right.
The crowd. On the opposite side at the bottom of that tall building is the Great Basin Community Food Coop.

The following is excerpted from an RGJ story by Katrina Raenell. A link to the Artown web site and calendar of events is at the end of this posting.

Front page of the RGJ

Relief from the 105-degree heat wave burst over Wingfield Park with strong winds and pelting rain.

Blankets and umbrellas scat­tered along the grass as the gather­ing crowd took refuge under trees and bobbing river swimmers rushed under bridges.

The opening night of Artown had fallen under the shadow of a rain­storm.

“A little rain isn’t going to stop me,” a passerby said. “Give it five minutes. It’s Reno.”

As the rain dwindled, the people began to pour over the bridge and park entrances into the park.

They came with chairs, coolers and Pink Floyd “Dark Side of the Moon” T-shirts. The mood was light, friendly, and the crowd buzzed about the upcoming perfor­mances from Reno band Jelly Bread and the “Return to the Dark Side of the Moon” musicians.

Kelsey “J” Rosser said she has attended Artown every year for about 10 years and she was excited to see the “Return to the Dark Side of the Moon.” She said she didn’t care how hot it was, she wasn’t go­ing to miss the opening of Artown for anything. “Reno’s art community has grown so much over the past five years,” Rosser said. “I don’t know what to expect from this year’s Artown, but I think it will probably be bigger than in the past.”

The searing heat of the day was comfortably cooled by the time Jelly Bread took the stage.

To an opening set of upbeat funk-jam, the crowd settled into a rhythm of its own with bobbing heads, tapping feet and children spinning in circles. On the outskirts of the crowd, Barbara Rodriguez had just arrived to the fest and was enjoying listening to the band. “These guys have a groovy vibe,” Rodriguez said.

Set up to feed the masses was barbecue restaurant Men Wielding Fire, and Little Jimmy’s Italian Ice. James Hinkel of Little Jimmy’s was invited to participate in Artown last minute and was looking forward to opening night of the festival.

“I’ve traveled all over, and I’ve never known a community to do something so culturally sound for a whole month,” Hinkel said. “This event involves every aspect of culture and arts.”

A trippy, slow moving heartbeat filled the air as Dark Side took the stage with heavy rhythm and instrumentals.

Nora Hendryx joined the musicians on the stage and harmonized her vocals with the music as it began to build in tempo. The first riff of Pink Floyd’s “Breathe” began, and the crowd cheered and sang along.

ARTOWN is Reno’s July Art and Culture Festival. For nearly two decades, Artown has brought together local and global talent to promote and showcase the arts through a mostly free or low cost month-long festival.
I could go on and on, but go ahead and check out renoisartown  for the calendar, events, mission statement and so on and on. Who knew. Last year we had just arrived in town and didn’t know nothin’. Now we know.


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