Art at the Park Returns in a Big Way

by Tim Froberg

Appleton residents didn’t get the opportunity to experience Art at the Park in 2020, so this year they will get a double dose of all things art at historic City Park.

The 61st annual event has been expanded to two days – July 24-25 – for the first time in its history. A year ago, the live event was cancelled due to the global pandemic, although a virtual version of it was held.

Art at the Park is a community festival built around the colorful, creative world of art. Close to 160 art vendors had registered for the event heading into June. They will display their wares for sale, including paintings, photography, jewelry, pottery, sculptures, and other creative works.

The performing arts is also a major part of the free event which is presented by Community First Credit Union and hosted by the Trout Museum of Art. Live music – with at least 12 musical acts scheduled – will be offered as part of the Mile of Music celebration that also returns to downtown Appleton following a year’s hiatus.

Art at the Park is traditionally one of the summer’s biggest events in downtown Appleton, typically drawing up to 20,000. 

“The two-day expansion has allowed us to expand everything – the food area, the sound stage, and the children’s area and activities,” said Ashley Acker, marketing manager for the Trout Museum of Art.

Acker is especially excited about the musical element of Art at the Park.

 “We’ve really expanded it,” she said. “We’ll have a bigger stage and a better sound system than in past years. We work with Mile of Music and they help create our lineup so that we get some really great musicians here.

“It takes us beyond being just a visual arts festival.”

A large food court – at least 20 food vendors will be available – is part of the family-friendly event which offers an interactive art zone (known as Kids Creative Space) for children of all ages, allowing children to dabble in different areas of art like easel painting, tape resist art, clay sculpturing, and printmaking. A Young Artist Marketplace where artists under the age of 18 can display and sell their work is also a part of Art at the Park.

“It’s a great day for families – not just people who appreciate art,” Acker said. “There are a lot of fun art-related activities for kids.”

And of course, there is the awesome art.

“A lot of our artists come every year, so people get to know them and love having them back,” Acker said. “But we get new artists each year, too.”

The event is supported by 36 partner sponsors in the community with more than 200 volunteers.