In 1971, while working on his doctorate degree, Kearney State College Larry Peterson witnessed a small gathering of Kansas artists displaying their works in a park. He and his wife Shari wanted to create such an event in Kearney and Larry began recruiting about 20 local artists and sought local businesses for monetary support, and chose Harmon Park as the locale.
For 35 years Larry Peterson served as Director of Art in the Park, with the support of the Kearney Artist Guild. Currently Dan Garringer, the Kearney Artist Guild, and Peterson continue the annual summer event. It has been traditionally held in Kearney’s Harmon Park, the second Sunday in July with the assistance of Kearney Parks and Recreation. 2021 will celebrate 50 years of Kearney’s Art in the Park, featuring as many as 80-90 artists from several states.
The annual Art in the Park event is always anticipated by the Tri-City region. Usually July is unbearably hot but this event continues to bring out artists and patrons from all over – photographers showing our amazing landscapes, painters revealing the colors and moods of our Great Plains life, jewelry workers creating small remembrances of our lives, woodworkers creating signs and bird houses, weavers with varied visions of plains colors, ceramicists presenting beautiful objects for our everyday use. And the patrons who share these arts. Additionally the musical accompaniment throughout the day creates a festive event.
Art in the Park received the Governor’s Art Award and provides the community with the opportunity to view and purchase original art works.
Comment from Karen Park
When I was a kid, one of the best things about July was the County Fair. I loved watching the carnival set-up with the booths and rides. Same feeling now when it’s time for Art in the Park. Watching Harmon Park transformed with artists’ booths, music on the stage, Food Trucks, esp. snow cones because it’s usually so blooming hot! And best of all, so many wonderful pieces of art for sale—paintings, sculpture, jewelry, pottery. There’s something for everyone and bargains galore. The artists are there and so happy to talk to you about their work. If seeing and being seen is your thing, there’s that too. While you’re there, buy a T shirt, a piece of art you can wear. And take a stroll around the park, another one of Kearney’s art treasures.