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Kentuck Festival of the Arts attracted record crowd, organizers say

Kentuck Festival of the Arts attracted record crowd, organizers say

Under the category of good problems to suffer, the Kentuck staff has been pondering, post-festival weekend, how to deal with long lines and waits for shuttle buses.

Not that delays are themselves good, except as indicators of demand and desire, staff said. And there was a lot of both Oct. 16 and Oct. 17, for the 50th Annual Kentuck Festival of the Arts.

As fall finally fell on that opening Saturday, with daytime temperatures mid-70s under mostly blue skies, what’s estimated as the largest-ever single-day crowd waited, most of them patiently, to gain admission at the Kentuck Park gates.

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“It was probably close to 11,000 people on Saturday, more than we’ve ever had in one day,” said Ashley Williams, Kentuck’s marketing manager. An overwhelmed front-gate staff couldn’t tally totals, as some purchased for just that day, and others paid for the two-day discounted admission. Still others entering had grabbed passes in advance.

Patrons look in the booths as they walk between rows of vendors at the Kentuck Festival of the Arts in Kentuck Park Saturday, October 21, 2017. [Staff Photo/Gary Cosby Jr.]

Even while they backed up in overloaded trucks, vans and RVs to unload wares, a number of the more than 250 artists reported selling completely out on the first day, and having to refill shelves for the Sunday closer.

“Artists we talked to were very pleased,” said Amy Echols, Kentuck’s executive director. “They are not required to report their sales to us, so we’ll eventually get those figures from tax people, but we are assured they had record sales.”