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Denton Arts & Jazz Fest shines again in 41st year

Denton Arts & Jazz Fest shines again in 41st year

Denton Arts & Jazz Fest shines again in 41st year
October 08
10:00 2021

Despite a heavy rain forecast, the Denton Arts & Jazz Festival shined through the weekend with full lineups on its stages and vendors selling food, art and more. 

The 41st annual Arts & Jazz Festival was hosted by the Denton Festival Foundation in Quakertown Park and Facilities this past weekend.

The event was held for the first time in 30 months as the Arts & Jazz Festival was pushed back because of COVID-19.

The 2020 festival was canceled with a one-night “Quarantine Edition” in its place online, and a year later, the 2021 festival was rescheduled from April to October.

Kevin Lechler, executive director of the Denton Festival Foundation who has worked on other community events including the North Texas State Fair and Dog Days of Denton, said the Arts & Jazz Festival faced new challenges because of the impacts of the pandemic that are plaguing the U.S. 

“The pandemic is no friend to public events,” Lechler said. “There’s been an awful lot that’s completely out of our control. We’re doing the best we can.” 

COVID-19 changed how the festival usually operates. Six stages were scheduled, compared to the usual seven, as the Center Stage in the Senior Center was closed to avoid crowding and fewer vendors were at the festival. Lechler said the fewer amount of vendors allowed them to spread tables out for better social distancing. 

Other precautions were taken for COVID-19, including decreasing the size of the Children’s Art Tent and moving its stations outside. The festival also set up more hand-washing stations and signs reminding attendees to wear masks in crowded areas. 

“We’re trying our best to keep everyone safe,” Lechler said.

Destini Spraggins, theatre design and technologies senior, said she was attracted to the Arts & Jazz Festival because COVID-19 put a halt on shows and she wants to overcome her feeling of seclusion onset by COVID-19-related isolation.

“Before COVID, I never really explored,” Spraggins said. “It’s like you don’t know what you’ve missed until it’s gone.”

Argyle resident Jason Watts was a vendor at the festival with Revolt Streetwear, a Denton-based clothing brand.

Watts said a jazz festival is not a place he expected to find his typical clientele, but with Denton being so diverse, he knew he would find a cool crowd. He also said since COVID-19 stopped all festivals, concerts and live music are now “definitely necessary.” 

“Coming back is huge,” Watts said. 

The Denton Arts & Jazz Festival is typically held in April. After moving the event to this October, Lechler said it is unclear if there will be a quick turnaround for the festival to happen again in April 2022. He said there has been support from sponsors, but their support cannot be expected again so quickly. 

Lechler said that although the future holds uncertainty, the Denton community coming together is now the best part of the Arts & Jazz Festival.

“It’s emotional,” Lechler said. “It doesn’t really matter who you are [or] where you come from — we’re here to celebrate music and the arts.” 

Featured Image: Jazz studies student Aramis Frenandez plays at the Denton Arts and Jazz Festival as a part of the UNT Latin Jazz Ensemble on Oct. 2, 2021. Photo by Lola Garza

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Hannah Johnson

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