According to a press release, the Council decided it was time to explore new opportunities due to the change in how people consume their art and the number of outdoor arts experiences that are now available. Over the years, additional artistic options have come to St. Joseph, such as Sounds of Summer, the Jazz Festival and Imagine Eleven at Coleman Hawkins Park.
Teresa Fankhauser, executive director of the Allied Arts Council, said multiple factors were discussed with the decision to indefinitely suspend the Festival.
“The rising costs of performers and infrastructure fees, coupled with a greater number of opportunities to experience and participate in the arts are the underlying factors leading to the decision,” Fankhauser said.
The three-day festival, held annually since 1993 at Civic Center Park, was the largest arts festival in northwest Missouri, with more than 45,000 attendees at its peak and with an annual economic impact of over $1 million a year.
In 1993, the City of St. Joseph asked the Allied Arts Council to produce a festival to celebrate St. Joseph’s sesquicentennial. Founding chair Karen Graves had a vision to create a festival to celebrate the arts and St. Joseph’s unique cultural heritage. For 26 years, Trails West!® has continued that mission. Festivals have a lifespan, and although the Council is sad for the festival to close, the city can look back, celebrate and cherish the memories the festival created.
The Allied Arts Council has appointed a committee of AAC members, TW! steering committee members and community leaders to study issues and look at other opportunities where arts needs aren’t being met in St. Joseph.