Organizers of performing arts event encouraged by first-year participation

Photo by Gretel Daugherty—Holly Schroeder of Grand Junction and the rest of the fire dancing troupe Illumicirque perform the finale of their show in the Mesa State College quad Saturday during the first Grand Valley Performing Arts Festival. The four-day festival included singing and musical performances, dance, and poetry, theater and movies.



Interest from performing artists, as well as residents, has organizers of the recent Grand Valley Performing Arts Festival encouraged and hopeful that a similar event will take place next year.

“We’ve been pleased with the feedback and response for a first-year festival,” said Allison Sarmo, one of the organizers for the Performing Arts Festival.

More than 300 people from an estimated 30 performing arts groups participated in the festival Thursday through Sunday at Mesa State College.

An exact count of how many attended the four-day event was unknown because most of the activities were free.

However, Connie Monroe, another event organizer, guessed that nearly 800 people attended any of the dozens of events offered in dance, poetry, movies, theater and music.

The most popular events were the Grand Junction Centennial Band performance, the two Melody in Motion main-stage shows, the two Illumicirque fire dance troupe performances and “Seussical” theater show, which was the final festival event Sunday.

Sarmo said it seemed like nearly one-third of the audience at the four-day festival was children, which both she and Monroe were ecstatic to see.

“I just thought the fact parents would take the time to bring their kids to participate and to watch some of the arts was really encouraging,” Sarmo said. “If you can grab kids’ imaginations at an early age, you really are building an audience for the arts.”

One of the most surprising turnouts was Thursday’s children’s theater workshop where children ages 8 to 18 showed up at 9 a.m. to audition and rehearse a show before a 6 p.m. performance.

Nearly 40 youth participated in the free event — nearly 10 more than expected, Sarmo said.

Grand Junction’s Creative Avenues put on the show.

Sarmo and Monroe plan to sit down in the weeks ahead to discuss what went well and what improvements could be made in the future.


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