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In and out of the 2016 Denton Arts and Jazz Festival

In and out of the 2016 Denton Arts and Jazz Festival

In and out of the 2016 Denton Arts and Jazz Festival
May 02
19:34 2016

Victoria Monteros | Staff Writer


On the grassy lawns of Quakertown Park this past weekend, the Denton Arts and Jazz Festival had people visiting from all across the Metroplex to immerse themselves in festivities over the span of three days.

People brought blankets and chairs, taking time to listen and enjoy musical acts while some took to the lawns and started dancing – something not easily done during last year’s downpour.

“It was a vision of mine that we wanted to do,” festival founder and executive director Carol Short said.

Behind the scenes

The festival is held by the Denton Festival Foundation and has been held in Quakertown Park since 1991. It was originally produced as Spring Fling, but Spring Fling wasn’t solely concentrated on arts and music. As a result, Carol Short set out to create what we know today as the Denton Arts and Jazz Festival.

Short took over as president and began building her team and starting her efforts of creating the festival.

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The band “Live Groovin’” takes the Budweiser Courtyard stage Arts and Jazz Festival at Quakertown Park on Saturday. Paulina De Alva | Staff Photographer

“I wanted to have it here in the park. I wanted to get big sponsors and I wanted it free,” Short said. “I wanted to expose professional music to people who wouldn’t ordinarily see it.”

It has since grown from three stages to seven stages, has had over 200 sponsors and went from covering half the park to the whole 32 acres. The budget also has expanded from $57,000 to $555,000 and the American Canadian Musician’s Union from New York helps reimburse musicians.

“It’s just a great experience for families, for individuals and for students, so you can’t really say what area or what age or what does this festival appeal to. It appeals to all ages. It appeals to all ethnicities,” Short said. “If you love music and you love the arts, you’re going to be overloaded for two and a half days.”

Beyond the jazz

Three hundred musicians and vendors came out to the festival. It offered attractions for all ages, including a children’s tent with painting for kids. Although jazz was a major part of the festival with several jazz acts occupying the biggest stages, other musical, artsy attractions were scattered throughout Quakertown Park.

Among these attractions were three country music musicians hailing from Corsicana, with classics like George Strait’s “All My Ex’s Live In Texas.”

“[For] the three of us, this is our first time playing together. Byron and I practiced about 20 songs together,” musician Mike O’Neal said. “We did that on the sound stage, and then we moved over here and then he thought of a couple songs and I thought of a couple stage.”

Arts and Jazz Dylan Nadwodny-3

Jeffrey Barnes plays a trumpet while on the Wells Fargo and Budweiser Jazz Stage with Brave Combo on Sunday night during the Denton Arts and Jazz Festival. Dylan Nadwodny | Staff Photographer

Soca band Calypso Steel also played live music with sounds of drum, bass and a steel pan that added a very Jamaican, tropical feel to the festival. Soca is a type of music that originated in Trinidad and Jamaica and is characterized by fast beats and push-snare.

“It’s well organized. I like playing in festivals that are union festivals because you get in and out quickly. As an entertainer, we’re able to have access and entertain a good number of people,” Calypso Steel member Cameron Streck said. “The food’s good, great weather today and it’s a great weekend for it.”

Moving to the music

Along with musical attractions were performances from dancers. Isis and the Star Dancers, a dance troupe from Bedford, came to perform on Sunday donned in traditional Middle Eastern belly dancing garments.

“[We’ve been coming] probably for 15 years. There’s more and more things. The sound people are professional. All the contacts we have here are very professional.” Isis Bartlett, one of the bellydancers, said about the show. “[We hope to] give our dancers the opportunity to dance at a wonderful place.”


The Frisco High School Jazz Band performs on the Festival Stage Saturday. Hannah Ridings | Senior Staff Photographer

Along with human festivalgoers were a few dogs. Attendees Pat and Bob Ankrum brought their furry, canine friend, Dixie-Cup, who doned a cowboy hat and Texas Ranger sunglasses. Dixie-Cup is also a therapy dog, and they take her everywhere they go – even last year’s festival.

“We like taking Dixie out. We take her to hospitals and therapy centers and stuff like that,” Bob said. “She loves people.”

Artsy attractions were present as well. Painter and UNT alumni John Bramblitt showcased his art for the third time, and though Bramblitt has lost his sight, he relies on his sense of touch to paint magnificent works of art. He has had his work sold in 20 countries and has appeared on national television.

“I go to this every year,” Bramblitt said. “I only do about four or five festivals, I mostly work in museums and galleries. But I won’t miss this festival. I have to come here. The people here are so nice, it’s just this different sort of feel.”

Featured Image: An attendee bungee jumps during Arts and Jazz. Hannah Ridings | Senior Staff Photographer

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