SOMERTON – This city plans to make fine art and wine cause for celebration at a new public event that could take place in the fall or early next year.
The Somerton City Council recently approved a proposal by the city’s parks and recreation commision to organize a first-ever art and wine festival.
“This idea has been circulating among us for nearly two years, but because of the pandemic we couldn’t go forward with it,” said Francisco Vasquez, president of the commision. “Now the city is reopening and the need to support art is there.”
The festival would provide a venue for visual artists to exhibit their work, and allow the Somerton residents and visitors to sample wine and enjoy other beverages.
Somerton previously hosted the Vintage Festival to showcase Arizona’s wine industry. That event was suspended after its second year in 2011.
The Somerton Park and Recreation Department will oversee the new festival that adds art as a focus of the observance.
“The idea is to give local artists a platform to exhibit their work and to promote arts and culture in the community,” said Jesus Meza, the parks department director. “This event would be dedicated to the visual arts, but we are thinking of (organizing) three (other festivals as well) – one devoted to dance, another to music and one that we are still defining.”
The art and wine festival would be open to exhibitions by artists from around the Yuma area as well as from Somerton.
The city has limited funds to stage the festival, he said, but organizers could seek sponsorships from wine distributors and craft brewers, among other contributors. Vasquez said one brewer has already offered to sponsor the event.
Mayor Gerardo Anaya said the art and wine festival will help diversify the list of annual events hosted by the city.
“For years we have focused on promoting sports, but we have talked in (the city council) retreats about this, and it’s good that someone is taking the initiative to do an art festival,” he said. “It’s something we have tried before, but for some reason it hasn’t taken hold.”
The ideal venue for the festival, said Meza, would be Centennial Park, created by the city in 2018 at the base of the city’s iconic water tower as one of the events marking Somerton’s 100th anniversary. An alternative site would be city’s Community Center.
Meza said the parks and recreation department and commission are looking at having the festival in the fall, although it could be pushed back to early 2022.