clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Local artists showcase their work, draw crowds at Park City's Kimball Arts Festival

PARK CITY — Dirk and Daryl Olsen are both 75 years old and, so far, neither of them have lost their marbles.

In fact, the couple accepts deliveries of more than 1,000 pounds of marbles every couple of months. It's all part of their lifestyle plan, to keep each other going.

He cuts, dries, sands, glues, clamps and pieces together exotic and indigenous woods to fashion a variety of beautiful board games and she sews tiny pouches to keep track of the game pieces, which are all marbles.

They estimate building 3,000 to 4,000 board games each year, selling them at a number of festivals and fairs throughout the western United States.

Individuals of varying ages dawdled into their booth Saturday at the Kimball Arts Festival, some going away with their hand-crafted purchases, including brightly colored loose marbles tied up in a clear, plastic bag.

"It's not making us rich, but it sure keeps us busy," Daryl Olsen said. The two have been working together, designing and building the games for the past 17 years.

Dirk Olsen, who spent most of his life working as an accountant for the Utah division of the aerospace company Hercules, said he enjoys working with his hands and "scrounges" fallen trees and other wood scraps wherever he can.

One of the games, a maze, he said, was inspired by a tiny plastic toy he found in a Cracker Jack box as a child.

His favorite of the more than a dozen games he creates, and also a best-seller for the couple's business venture, is marble solitaire.

Not only can it be played by any age or ability level, Dirk Olsen said it can be left to come back to and "you don't have to have a loser to get a winner. I like it so well that I make it in four sizes."

The Olsens' Marble Board Games was just one of 214 artist booths from 28 states, showcasing work in 12 categories during the three-day festival.

It was local photographer Jeff Beck's first time being invited to participate in the popular and pet-friendly festival, which has occupied the length of Park City's Historic Main Street every year for the past 43 years.

Beck said his unique medium — photo transfers on wood, canvas and tile — and modestly priced nature photography "has so much potential and just can't be replicated." He loves photographing the Wasatch Mountains and getting close-up photos of things he sees along the way.

While Beck was wait-listed for the festival for two years, he hopes the weekend brings more exposure to his work, builds his reputation and helps to establish himself as a professional.

"We try to make it to the festival every year," said Draper residents Rob and Shirley Brosseau. The couple doesn't come looking for anything in particular, but isn't afraid to go home with unique and contemporary works of art that catch their eye.

Shirley Brosseau was wearing hand-made jewelry she picked up from the festival last year.

In addition to jewelry, hand-crafted sculptures, clothing, trinkets and lifelike paintings, the festival also highlights local restaurants and dining that is unique to Park City. Kids can enjoy hands-on art demonstrations, face-painting and other experiences, and as always, the canyon offers temperatures several degrees cooler than the mid-90s down in the valley.

More information about the festival can be found online at


Twitter: wendyleonards