Explore the Arts & Culture Scene with Reno’s Artown Festival
By: Oliver X
July 2021 marks the return of Reno’s Artown, the festival that defines summer in Reno with 31 days of arts in the sun! For first-timers who are unfamiliar with the non-profit arts organization, Artown, now in its 26th season, is a festival of, for and by artists and organizations themselves.
In a typical year, Artown hosts over 500 events county-wide at over 120 venue locations, primarily in Reno, Sparks, Carson City and North Lake Tahoe. An award-winning family-friendly event, Artown is the only continuous 31-day arts festival of its kind in the western United States.
This year, Artown Executive Director Beth Macmillan has again assembled an eclectic array of multi-disciplinary performing arts headliners, highlights and emerging stars, all performing at Rancho San Rafael Regional Park
Of those 500+ events presented under Artown’s marketing and production umbrella, only 10 percent are actually booked by the Artown staff; the rest emerge from and are hosted, produced and presented by a diverse group of community artists and organizations in all genres and artistic media, from northern Nevada’s rich arts community. The general public can take art classes and enjoy activities like:
- 22-days Artown’s Discover the Arts series for kids age 6-12
- Slam poetry
- Mural tours
- Open art studios
- Popular and indie films
- Block parties
- Literary arts
- Oil painting, watercolor, acrylic and life drawing
- Stamp collecting
- And everything in between
This year, Artown Executive Director Beth Macmillan has again assembled an eclectic array of multi-disciplinary performing arts headliners, highlights and emerging stars, all performing at Rancho San Rafael Regional Park including:
- Opening Night with lively 20s Jazz-Swing impresarios The Hot Sardines (7/1)
- The Reno Philharmonic’s production of “American Salute” (7/3 and 4)
- Las Vegas-based Cirque Zuma Zuma (made up of acrobats and dancers from 14 African nations) (7/6)
- AJ Croce – Jim Croce’s son who was three when his father died (7/8)
- The Sextones (7/9)
- Kronos Quartet (7/15)
- Sierra Nevada Ballet’s production of “Giselle” (7/17)
- 5-time Grammy award winner Keb’ Mo’ (7/22)
- Blues Hall of Fame Inductee Ernie Johnson performing with Cliff Porter’s Full Blast (7/24)
- Electric violin virtuoso Tim Snider (7/25)
- World-renowned ukulele master Jake Shimabukuro (7/27)
- Quincy Jones protege the dynamic soul songstress Sheléa (7/29)
- Closing Night features Oscar-winning singer-songwriter Buffy Sainte-Marie (7/31)
Artown is an arts festival that hosts other festivals, including the 7th Annual Lavender Day Festival (7/10); 54th Annual Basque Festival (7/17); 14th Annual Gospel Fest (7/16); Northern Nevada Pride at Wingfield Park (7/24), plus many more!
This year Reno’s Artown festival’s footprint has moved from its traditional home at Wingfield Park Amphitheater downtown on the Truckee, to Washoe County’s Rancho San Rafael Regional Park. Artown festival staff felt that the festival needed much more room than the much smaller Wingfield Park Amphitheater could accommodate under COVID-19 conditions and pandemic uncertainties.
Artown wants supporters to be and feel safe to assemble outdoors. Rancho San Rafael affords Reno’s Artown the luxury of erecting a 40’ x 40’ stage, with state-of-the-art lighting and sound (provided by Starsound) on 4.5 acres of festival grounds.
This allows attendees to spread out and enjoy the festival concerts and performances in a collection of 500+ 6’ x 6’ socially distanced seating pods, which can comfortably hold four people with chairs, blankets and food. These pods can be pre-purchased and assigned online, or purchased on-site, day of the show.
Artown celebrates the return of food trucks and vendors with full operation, and will again have Men Wielding Fire as its primary food and beverage provider, with a full offering of proteins, veggies, beer, wine, soda, water and spirits. However, folks can choose their favorite food from any one of 16 participating Grab ‘n’ Go restaurant locations, curated by the local foodie bible edible Reno-Tahoe Magazine.
Artown attendees will enjoy the jubilant return of live events and art happenings city- and county-wide in 2021, at up to 100 locations! Tickets are already selling fast for Artown’s Midtown Music Series (Sunday nights), Monday Night Music Series, Cultural Connections (Wednesday nights), Headliner Series (Thursday nights) and the popular Friday Night Music Series (formerly Rollin’ on the River).
Tickets for all shows can be purchased on Artown’s website where a complete listing of all of Artown’s 31 days of events can be found.
Oliver X is Artown’s marketing director and former editor-publisher of the award-winning Reno-Tahoe Tonight Magazine.