Four festivals and events in Kent will receive awards of $7,070 or $5,000 from King County to help restart them in 2022 after they were canceled the last two years due to COVID-19.
Kent Cornucopia Days, Fourth of July Splash and Kent International Festival each will receive $7,070. The Linda Sweezer Memorial Juneteenth Celebration and Festival will get $5,000, according to a Jan. 10 news release from County Executive Dow Constantine. All four have operating budgets under $250,000.
Constantine announced $1.9 million in awards from the Festival & Event Restart Fund to 185 festivals and events, important contributors to the county’s creative economy, according to the news release. Small businesses and nonprofits have been greatly impacted by the pandemic over the last 22 months, and many events and festivals were unable to operate for two full event seasons.
These community productions provide arts and cultural celebrations, as well as employ many gig economy professionals, including artists, stagehands, technicians, and vendors, and trigger a supply chain of small businesses in King County hired by events and festivals.
“These events and festivals bring art, culture, culinary arts, heritage, and engagement to communities across King County,” Constantine said. “In a diverse and dynamic region like King County, it’s critical that arts and cultural organizations be part of our COVID recovery. As we move through this pandemic and get to a place where folks can safely gather in groups again, we want to make sure our communities come back to life with events and festivals.”
• Kent Cornucopia Days, an annual street fair in July that draws thousands of people and features more than 300 vendors, has been canceled the last two years by the Kent Lions Club due to the pandemic.
• The Fourth of July Splash is an annual event at Lake Meridian Park presented by the city of Kent. City officials canceled the event in 2021 and 2020. The popular event features food, music, games and a fireworks display. The special fireworks display received a city permit in order to operate. The city bans personal use of fireworks.
• Kent International Festival is a multi-cultural celebration that features entertainment, cultural booths, authentic food and colorful art, and activities for guests, friends and families.
• The Linda Sweezer Memorial Juneteenth Celebration is presented by The Kent Black Action Commission (KBAC). The family friendly, community-wide, cultural celebration commemorates African-American freedom. The event was renamed in 2018 to honor Sweezer, a KBAC member, who was killed in her East Hill home in 2017.
The awardees were evaluated on multiple criteria including employment of local festival and event workers, contractors, and small businesses, as well as their provision of creative and cultural benefits to King County residents. A list of award winners is available on the King County Creative website.
“Festivals showcase some of the most incredible talent, art, music, dancing, and food that the Northwest has to offer and bring people together to celebrate,” said County Councilmember Jeanne Kohl-Welles. “Though the past two years have often not felt celebratory, it is vital that these community cornerstones continue into the future, as we are able to gather freely and safely together again. I’m very pleased that we were able to provide these award recipients with the funds and support that they need in order to continue their work and elevate our spirits in the coming months and years.”
The Executive’s Office is administering nearly $24.5 million to creative sector businesses and organizations. Last month, Constantine announced the award of $19.5 million to arts and culture organizations with pre-COVID operating budgets over $1 million, science organizations, independent movie theaters and live music venues. Kent groups or venues were not part of that distribution.
The funding is part of a larger $34.4 million federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) COVID relief fund, focused on the King County creative sector, and included in the emergency COVID supplemental budget approved by the King County Council last year. Constantine launched the application process for these grants in October 2021.
An additional $9.4 million for the cultural field will be distributed by 4Culture, King County’s cultural services agency, focused on cultural organizations with pre-COVID annual operating budgets under $1 million and support for cultural workers.