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Denton Arts & Jazz Festival Celebrates 41 Years

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The signature community event returns in October with live music, art, food and much more. 

After a two year hiatus due to the pandemic, the Denton Arts & Jazz Festival returns this October to Quakertown Park with its 41st event. 

According to Kevin Lechler, executive director of the Denton Festival Foundation, Inc., the last Denton Arts & Jazz Festival was held in April 2019. “Given everything going on in the world right now…we feel very fortunate to be able to have this event,” he explains. 

Lechler says this event will still be the free admission, two-and-a-half days of fun that Dentonites have come to expect from the Festival, with a few changes made for safety. For example, this year Foundation decided to have six stages for live music instead of seven so all stages would be outside. Additionally, the number of entries for artists and vendors was limited to allow for booths to be spaced out. 

“We’re doing everything that we can possibly do in order to make sure we have a very fun, very safe event for everybody,” Lechler adds. 

Play That Music

One of the main attractions of the Denton Arts & Jazz Festival is its continuous live music, starting at 3pm on Friday, October 1st, and running all day both Saturday, October 2nd and Sunday, October 3rd. All music takes place on the Festival’s six outdoor stages. 

The Jazz Stage — sponsored by Wells Fargo & Budweiser — is the main stage for the Festival and will feature headliners one each evening of the Festival. On Friday night, the Jason Moran & The Bandwagon will take the stage at 9pm. Tower of Power is the headliner on Saturday night at 9pm. And Brave Combo closes out the Festival on Sunday evening at 7pm.  

There’s also a special spotlight on the Showcase Stage this year, which is sponsored by The University of North Texas (UNT). A few months ago, the Denton Festival Foundation and UNT announced Denton criminal defense attorney Tim Powers had pledged a $15,000 sponsorship to UNT to provide the funding the school needed to continue its sponsorship. 

Lechler says the Denton Festival Foundation is extremely grateful for Powers’ generous sponsorship and UNT’s continued involvement with the Festival. “Because they are a world renowned music program known pretty much everywhere, it was very important to us not to lose UNT’s participation,” he adds. 

Arts, Food & More!

At this year’s Arts & Jazz Festival, Lechler says there will be about 100 artisans showcasing their arts. Each year, the Festival holds a juried art show that is reviewed by a jury panel consisting of Denton residents. Fine arts are showcased in the Denton Civic Center, while a wide variety of arts and crafts can be found at outdoor booths. 

Lechler says Festival patrons will be able to find a little bit of everything, from oil paintings to jewelry, including many unique, one-of-a-kind pieces. 

For the little artists attending the event, the Festival will host a special Children’s Art Area. For safety reasons, Lechler says this year’s children’s area will be smaller with two activity stations, and will be held completely outside. And children will still have the opportunity to visit the Percussion Petting Zoo, “where kids can go learn about and play all of the different percussion instruments,” Lechler adds. 

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And as all of this activity is bound to work up an appetite, Lechler reports there will be lots of food to choose from at this year’s Festival. This year’s line-up includes typical fair foods like corn dogs and funnel cakes, as well as Cajun cuisine and vegan specialities. “It pretty much runs the gamut of everything,” he adds. 

Top Hands

With an event of this magnitude, the Denton Arts & Jazz Festival gets a great deal of support from its membership group called Top Hands. Members pay an annual dues of $15 per person/$30 per couple or a $35 corporate membership to join. The funds collected help support the Foundation’s year-round operations. 

Additionally, Lechler says some Top Hands members volunteer a few hours during the Festival to help man the Foundation’s booth. For their time, Top Hands volunteers receive complimentary food and drink coupons, a parking pass, and some other perks.

Lechler says being a Top Hands member gives a “backstage view” of the Festival. “We have typically between 400-500 members,” Lechler adds. “We have some members that have been with us since the very beginning. We couldn’t put this event on without our members.”

Denton Arts & Jazz Festival takes place October 1-3, 2021 at Quakertown Park and Facilities, 321 East McKinney (Corner of McKinney and Bell), in Denton. There is no charge to attend this event. 

  • Fri, October 1: 3pm – 11pm
  • Sat, October 2: 10am – 11pm
  • Sun, October 3: 11am – 9pm

For more information and the full event schedule, visit dentonjazzfest.com

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