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The Yellowstone Art Museum is hosting its annual arts and crafts festival, Summerfair, July 13-15 at Veterans Park. In its 40th year, Summerfair is one of the museum's largest annual events that supports the museum’s education programs, helping young artists find their muse, as well as yearly operating costs. 

"One of our biggest challenges is to get out into the community and expose people to the museum," said Bryan Knicely, executive director of the Yellowstone Art Museum. "Besides being a museum, we are a community cultural center. Part of our goal is to get people to use our space, perhaps in a nontraditional way."

Through programs such as art education in the summer, as well Jam at the YAM, yoga, and cooking classes, the art museum is mixing up events with artwork. 

Summerfair raises funds for such opportunities through sponsorship and vendor booth fees, and will feature more than 100 artists, craftspeople, community groups, entertainers, art activities and a children’s activity tent, as well as food vendors from the region and beyond. 

The event will include more than 30 new vendors and organizations, as well as additional food trucks. The inclusion of different vendors was in response to feedback that the event featured the same vendors each year, according to Knicely. 

“We want to make changes,” he said. “Feedback is critical to how we move forward, not just in Summerfair but all we do here.”

As part of its education outreach, the YAM hosts a Summer Art Studio on Thursday mornings and afternoons. Each class features a tour of the current exhibitions, followed by a related art making activity that uses a variety of mediums and materials. Additionally, YAM Camp is a week-long summer program designed to inspire growing artists and develop their artistic skills. Instructors utilize the museum indoors and outdoors to create art pieces of their own, from 3D art, to painting. Every year, there are two session for YAM Camp for children ages 6-8 and 9-12.

“Without that creativity, life is very black and white,” Knicely said. 

The event is expected to attract more than 10,000 people to Veterans Park. Last year, the event was expanded to include a Friday event, Summerfair Eve, which kicks off the event. Taking place again this year, Summerfair Eve will include live music by The Mojo from 5-9 p.m. 

Admission for Summerfair is $5 for adults and children over 6 and free for age six and under. This year, a weekend pass is offered for $25, which includes admission for two adults and up to three children for the entire weekend.


Arts and Entertainment Reporter

Arts & Entertainment Reporter at The Billings Gazette.