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Utica cancels Appetite For Art, Kids Fest for 2020

By: Kara Szymanski | Shelby - Utica News | Published July 7, 2020

 Cara Pitt and her mom, Nicole Pitt, from Rochester Hills, make art at the booth of Pete’s Kite Shop at last year’s Appetite for Art in Utica. The event has been canceled this year.

Cara Pitt and her mom, Nicole Pitt, from Rochester Hills, make art at the booth of Pete’s Kite Shop at last year’s Appetite for Art in Utica. The event has been canceled this year.

File photo by Donna Agusti

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UTICA — After putting on the annual Appetite For Art festival, formerly known as the Old Mill Arts and Crafts Festival, for many years, it will not be held this year.

In addition, the city’s Kids Fest will also not be held this year.

Due to the outbreak of COVID-19 and a lack of interest in running the festivals, the city decided to cancel both events for 2020.

Beth Ricketts, the Utica city clerk, said she’s sad to see them canceled this year, but without interest and due to the virus, the city had to cancel the events.

“It’s mostly because no one wants to run it and consumer participation is so low anymore. Plus COVID-19 for this year,” said Rickets.

She said the Kids Fest didn’t have a big turnout last year, most likely due to excessive heat.

“It was 100 degrees, so there was a very low turnout,” she said.

The city is still hoping to hold the Kids Fest next year and believes that a change in date might bring more people out next time. Ricketts said perhaps the end of August would be a better time for it.

The Appetite For Art Festival is still in question if it will run at all next year.

Normally, both events would be held in July downtown or at a park.

The art festival usually includes an art sale, live entertainment, face painting, a children’s play area, a food truck rally and approximately 50 vendors with a variety of items. Admission to the event has been free.

The Kids Fest is a family-friendly event that usually has free admission and attractions including bounce houses, water obstacles, food trucks, face painting and more.

Ricketts said the city doesn’t really save much money by not holding the events.

“We don’t save that much. Most of the kids’ bounce stuff was covered by donations, and the art festival generated about $3,000 in funds for Parks and Recreation,” she said.

Nancy Carter, the Utica deputy city clerk, said that due to vendors not being able to donate as much to the event in recent years and a change in interest of attendees, the art festival isn’t the same as it once had been.

“There are fewer consumers who attend these types of shows unless there’s a strong emphasis on food, beer/wine and entertainment. It does make me sad because I truly enjoyed the people that I met, and so many people put their heart and soul into their craft and into putting this show together. Back before my time, they paired this with the ‘Taste of the Community,’ and that is when the entire event was crazy popular. Unfortunately, times are different, and restaurants are not able to donate food and time to this type of event any longer,” she said.

She said she hopes to see things return to how they were before the economic struggle and that the city can continue to do the event again.

“I’m hoping once the economy turns around again that Parks and Recreation will find a new fundraiser and new fun events for the community,” said Carter.

For more information on the events or cancellation, call the city at (586) 739-1600.

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