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Utah Arts Festival -- A palette of art

This is the last year the Utah Arts Festival will be held at the Triad Center.

It's been a great 15-year run, but the festival has outgrown its space, said festival assistant director R. Lee Roberts."We noticed the festival had gotten too big back in 1996," Roberts said. "One night we stood looking at the festival from the Delta Center stairs. There were about 20,000 people there and we said, 'Oh, my gosh. We need a bigger space.'"

Next year's festival will be held at the Utah State Fairpark, said festival executive director Robyn Nelson.

"We began surveying back in 1996," Nelson said. "And we set deadlines and realized how logical the move would be."

Since this year will be the Triad/Arts Festival swan song, Nelson and Roberts have something special planned for Sunday night.

"We're having an all-night salsa band stomp," Roberts said.

"The state's best salsa bands are going to play on the amphitheater stage beginning at 5:30 p.m.," Nelson said. "It will be one heck of a party."

Ritmo Caliente, Mambo Jumbo and Salsa Brava will provide the music, said Roberts. "We're all going to dance 'til we drop!"

Returning festival patrons might notice, however, this year's event is a little scaled down. There was a scheduling challenge.

"We really thought we'd have the NBA finals this year," said Nelson. "So we had to make way for games at the Delta Center. And so we didn't schedule many things at the Delta Center.

"By the time the (Utah) Jazz lost, it was too late to schedule any more artists," Nelson said.

Still, said Roberts, there will be plenty of activities, displays and performances for everyone.

"We are getting back to the interactive displays and artists," Roberts said. "This year we're bringing in an mobile glassblowing studio from Southern Illinois University."

The glassblowing studio -- nicknamed "Aunt Gladys" -- travels the country with artists who mold, stretch, blow and bend more than 100 pounds of molten glass.

Music this year will feature blues guitarist Duke Rolbillard on Thursday at 10 p.m.; Geno Delafose & French Rockin' Boogie on Friday at 10 p.m. and Australian swing band Fruit on Saturday, also at 10 p.m.

As for local performing artists, the Children's Dance Theatre will take the ampthitheater stage at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company will follow up at 9 p.m.; Ballet West will perform Saturday at 9 p.m. and the Repertory Dance Theatre will close the evening at 10:30 p.m.

"During all of this, we will have a display of how the Arts Festival will look at the Fairpark next year," Nelson said. "The display will be called 'Festival 2000.' It's a 30-foot-by-30-foot model that will be located at the northwest corner of the Delta Center plaza."

"We're looking forward to our new home," said Roberts.

-- THE 1999 UTAH ARTS FESTIVAL will open at the Triad Center on Thursday, June 24, at noon. Hours are Thursday through Saturday, noon-midnight; and Sunday, June 27, from noon to 10 p.m.

Admission is $5 for adults, $2 for senior citizens and free to children 12 and younger. There is also a $2 lunchtime-special admission price offered between noon-3 p.m. on Thursday and Friday.