KEARNEY — While many things about Art in the Park remain the same, the artwork always changes.

Dan Garringer, organizer of the festival, notes that artists constantly create new work.

“We always have some new artists,” he said. “One of the things that is always a ‘new’ element is the art itself. The artists are always doing new things and creating new artwork. When it comes right down to it, those are things you can’t find anywhere else. They are unique to that artist. It’s not like you can go into a big box store and pick up that artwork some place else.”

Kearney Artist Guild presents Art in the Park, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday at Harmon Park. Admission to the event is free.

Garringer looks to many of the same artists to return year after year. While the artists may return, Garringer understands that patrons may have only one chance to buy a coveted piece of artwork.

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“We have one gentleman who has been here for 36 years and he hasn’t said if he’s coming back yet,” Garringer said. “I might just make a phone call and see if he’s coming back. If he does come back, this might be the one and only chance to get that piece of art before he retires.”

Retiring artists often open up places for new artists.

“We’re seeing some of that,” Garringer said. “We’re seeing some new, younger artists come in who have different artwork compared to the traditional stuff we’ve seen in the past. Some of the artwork is starting to cater to some of the younger patrons we’ve had.”

While artists do make sales at Art in the Park, patron/artist interaction is important.

“I’ve talked to a number of artists who say, ‘I’ve had this much in sales during the day, but I had two commissions from somebody as well,’” Garringer said.

Growing up, Garringer, who works with watercolors, understands that some of the value of Art in the Park comes from making connections between future artists and mentors.

“This is something we put on for our community, too,” he said. “I was one of those individuals as a kid. I just loved going through Art in the Park and looking at the incredible artwork. And because of the nature of the venue, you can stop and talk to individuals that you might not see so often. It’s a great community event.”

Weather always plays an important role in Art in the Park, which takes place outdoors at Harmon Park.

“I’ve had people ask if we can do this at a different date,” Garringer said. “It’s always the second Sunday in July. It’s hot.”

After years of organizing and promoting Art in the Park, Garringer still enjoys the work.

“There are times that are exhausting but it’s one of those things that we’ve made a commitment to do,” he said. “The day it happens, it’s a blast. There are a lot of pieces that must come together to make Art in the Park work.”

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