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While the sun shone brightly on the Triad Center Wednesday, the eyes of adults and children alike also lit up as they participated in the Utah Arts Festival.

For that, says festival director Robyn Nelson, all expectations she had about this year's opening day were met."There's been gorgeous weather and beautiful art, and everyone seemed to be having a good time," said Nelson, wearing - what else? - sunglasses. "It's a good opening."

The festival, which continues through Sunday, showcases the work of dozens of artists from across the country, many of whom have booths set up to sell their wares. Not just any artist can be part of the festival, Nelson said - only those a jury deems worthy of coming. "These are some of the best around. We think we've got a lot to offer," she said.

Additions to the festival this year - the 5K Art Attack fun run on Saturday and the "Conversations With . . ." forums held daily - join the traditional Artists Marketplace.

Pottery, papier-mache sculptures (like a 17-foot-high walk-in whiskey bottle), paintings and fur caps are just some of the objects to be found. While many of the works of art are worthy of being displayed in a fancy gallery, by no means is the festival tailored solely for adults, organizers say.

One corner of the festival grounds is devoted to a Children's Art Yard where kids can do their own sculpting, drawing and music-making.

Masses of children gathered there to make chalk illustrations or bang on hanging hubcaps, turkey platters and tin cans. Another booth provided bowls of all different types of dried pasta for children to make pictures or necklaces.

Jerome Mack, an Olive Garden employee who was helping with the restaurant's pasta art booth, said he really enjoyed watching the children.

"It's funny to listen to the kids and hear them say `This is a lot funner here than at school,' " he said.

Festival organizers have emphasized this participatory nature, Nelson said. "We don't want people to walk in, cruise through and go. We want them to stop and enjoy it."

Schedule of events

The Artists Marketplace and the Art in Public Places display (in the Delta Center) are open each day from noon to midnight except Sunday when the festival closes at 10 p.m. "Real Art" in the Union Pacific Depot is open from noon to 11 p.m. through Saturday, noon to 10 p.m. on Sunday. The Children's Art Yard is open from noon to 9 p.m. daily.

Festival events continue through Sunday.


- Park Stage: Linke Hebrew Group, 4:30 p.m; Steele Appeal, 6 p.m.

- Amphitheater Stage: Intermountain Brass Quintet, 7:30 p.m.; Children's Dance Theatre: "Visions of Children," 9 p.m; Joe Muscolino Big Band, 10 p.m.

- Plaza Stage: Salsa Brava, 7 p.m; Alan Michael Band, 8:30 p.m.; Turtle Island String Quartet, 10 p.m.

- Festi-LIVE! (in the Delta Center): Zivio, 6:15 p.m.; TheatreWorks West, "Utah Shorts," 7:30 p.m.; Joe Pitti, mime, 9 p.m.

- Artists at Work: Maggie Harrison, felting, 5 p.m. This is a portion of the Adult Art Yard project to build a "T-Wrecks" dinosaur out of old automobile parts.

- Literary Arts - Cookbooks: Holly Virden, "Pinch of Salt Lake," 4 p.m; Stephen Trimble, "The Geography of Childhood" reading, 6 p.m.

- Speakers: David Sucec, Gallery Talk, 4 p.m; Gene Pack: "Soundwaves," music in the schools, 5:30 p.m.


- Park Stage: BRDJJ, noon; Kim Simpson, 1:30 p.m.; Forte, 3 p.m.; Ellis & Franklin, 4:30 p.m.

- Artists at Work: Cami the Clown, makeup application, 1 p.m.; Wade Hansen, stone carving, 3 p.m.

- Literary Arts - Book arts: Kids Livin' Life, "Homeless Hibernating Bear," noon; Heidi Ferguson, hand-made books, 2 p.m.; Richard Firmage, book design, "The Alphabet Abecedarium," 4 p.m.

- Speakers: Panel discussion on Utah's proposed Art Science Center, 1 p.m.; "Children of Promise: Art Empowerment for At-Risk Youth," Elaine Harding, Joe Pitti, 4 p.m.

Admission prices are $5 for adults, $2 for seniors 62 and older, $1 for children ages 2 to 12 and free for children younger than 2. There is a lunchtime special of $1 to attend from noon until 3 p.m. Family passes, admitting two adults and up to four children, are $11.