Every June in downtown Salt Lake City, the Utah Arts Festival welcomes about 80,000 people to Library Square for a weekend of fun and art. Most of us have grown up with the Utah Arts Festival, and for some, it was our first introduction to non-traditional art. The festival promotes all mediums of art and enriches the lives of Utahns through workshops, film, performing arts and kid-centric activities. It’s no small feat; it takes about 1000 volunteers and a team of year-round employees to put on the annual festival.
The Masquerade Party is an annual fundraising event for the local festival with dancing, drinking and just-for-fun gambling with a Mardi Gras theme. The crowd donned elaborate masks, ranging from robots to fancy jackalopes. The Rail Event Center was decorated in bright colors, while loud music invited people to the dance floor. Each guest was given a dramatic feathered mask and as many beads as they could handle upon entry, along with one alcoholic drink and $10.00 of chips to gamble with at the tables. Guilt free shopping could be done at the silent auction table. There were awesome prizes from popular local businesses including Boozetique and many others. Decorative animals, extravagant feathered and floral masks made by local artists embodied the spirit of the event and were available for auction. A generous 70 percent of the sales will go to the Utah Arts Festival.
It wouldn’t be a party without food. The students of the Culinary Arts program at the Art Institute of Utah got into the Mardi Gras spirit, serving roasted peppers filled with orzo and feta, cups of hearty gumbo and other tasty appetizers. For dessert, they served a decadent Bananas Foster with crème fraîche and mini Apple Fritters covered with a thick glaze. Other bites included Beehive Cheese with crostini and bags of gourmet Pop Art Popcorn. Uinta Cutthroat Pale Ale and 801 were on tap, along with wine and cocktails.
The gambling tables were crowded with players. On the stage, the tail end of a month’s long Texas Hold ’Em tournament played out. Just-for-fun gambling is the ideal place to get your feet wet and learn to play craps and other games. Although you couldn’t hear them over the music, everyone was happy to help explain the rules.
The Masquerade Party was full of food, drinks and fun. It was captivating to see the many ornate masks and folks dressed to the nines, dancing and gambling the night away all for a good cause. The Utah Arts Festival is all about community, and this was evident at the fundraiser. “The proceeds we raise at the Masquerade Party will support artistic programming at the 2015 Festival and help keep admission for kids age 12 and under free,” stated Aimée Dunsmore, Development Director.

The 2015 Utah Arts Festival will take place June 25–28 in Library Square in downtown Salt Lake City like every year. If you’re interested in volunteering, check out their website.
For more awesome photos of the UAF Masquerade Party, check out Talyn Sherer’s gallery!