Salt Lake City’s three-day DIY Festival moves west to the more spacious state Fairpark

Salt Lake City’s annual DIY Festival will move west this summer.

Craft Lake City officials announced Wednesday that the three-day event — which spent its first 10 years at the Gallivan Center in downtown — now will be held at the Utah State Fairpark, 155 N. 1000 West.

"With the Fairpark’s spacious air-conditioned buildings and large grassy areas, we know that patrons and participants alike will enjoy this venue change,” festival founder Angela H. Brown said. “Our new home allows for future festival growth and the ability to offer indoor and outdoor festival programing.”

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Angela H. Brown, executive director, Craft Lake City, in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, May 29, 2019. After spending 10 years at the Gallivan Center, Craft Lake City announced a new home at the Utah State Fairpark for its annual DIY Festival.

Brown announced the move in the Fairpark’s Zion Building, flanked by Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski and several elected representatives from city’s west-side neighborhoods, including City Councilman Andrew Johnston, Sen. Luz Escamilla and Rep. Sandra Hollins.

All the officials praised the move to an area that is often overlooked — yet is easily accessible by TRAX. The DIY festival has worked in previous years to showcase the state’s multicultural and refugee communities, and making its home at the Fairpark, they say, will enhance that.

“I’m so happy and proud to have Craft Lake City partner with the Fairpark,” said Hollins, who acknowledged that she is not a craft person and “nothing I ever do or make looks the way it’s supposed to.”

But having Utahns come to the west side to buy artisan products “and keep the money in this community” are important, she said. "These grounds are a jewel in our community and something we fought very hard to keep and something we will continue to fight for.”

Brown started Craft Lake City and the DIY Festival in 2009, an offshoot of her job as editor of SLUG Magazine. The festival was a one-day event that featured 72 artisans, eight local performers and four food vendors. At that time, about 2,000 people showed up.

“It was the first of its kind,” Brown said. “An all-local event celebrating Utah’s creatives.”

This year’s event, which takes place Aug. 9-11, will feature 250 do-it-yourself talents selling affordably priced, handmade, one-of-a-kind items. There will be 72 musical and dance performances on two stages, as well as DIY workshops, a children’s activity area, a youth vending area called Kid Row, the Google Fiber STEM Building, a VIP lounge, food trucks and a bike valet.

Attendance at the DIY Festival averages about 20,000 people over three days — and now will be the third largest event that takes place at the Fairpark each year, explained Executive Director Larry Mullenax.

The 11-day Utah State Fair draws the most, attracting some 290,000 people — with peak days ranging between 35,000 and 45,000, Mullenax said. The Days of ’47 Cowboy Games & Rodeo is second. Its new arena seats 10,000.

The DIY Festival’s arrival takes the Fairpark back to its roots, added Mullenax.

“We opened in 1856 with the mission to showcase Utah products, Utah artisans and Utah goods,” he said. “So, for me, this is coming full circle, that now here we are, in 2019, bringing another really wonderful Utah event to the Fairpark.”

The festival’s move to the west side can only help the Fairpark, which several years ago had shaky finances, but appears more stable. According to an audit, released last week, the revenues — from admissions, concessions, building rentals, parking and other streams — topped expenses. The Fairpark is operating $3.4 million in the black.

“We’ve worked to upgrade the facilities,” Mullenax said, “and to bring events that people want to see.”