The Bluff Arts Festival continues under new directors in its 14th year
by Ryan Collins
It was the first Bluff Arts Festival Dan and Jocelynn Meyers had ever experienced. They were not alone in this fact, as rough estimates showed there were nearly 300 attendees during the Saturday festivities.
What made it different for the Meyers than many of the first-time attendees was the fact that they were the new directors of the event. The husband and wife moved to Bluff in June from Dallas, TX and found that a good way to get involved with the community was through event organization.
The couple made the decision to get involved with the arts and according to them, the community was very receptive to allow them to step in and help, treating them like family along the way.
“We moved to Bluff because we love the arts and we love festivals,” Dan said.
“We came from New Orleans. We lived there before Dallas, and so of course every weekend there’s a festival.
“There’s always stuff going on, and when we moved here, we knew there was the balloon festival which is the big one, the arts festival, and of course the winter solstice burn. So there are lots of great activities.”
Having never been to the arts festival, they decided to talk to people to get an idea of the history of the event.
They sought out what had gone well and what hadn’t worked so well, trying to create their own unique festival along with others’ ideas while not uprooting a well-oiled machine that has been running for 14 years now.
“I think what makes this festival so much fun and makes it so unique is that it’s very flexible,” Jocelynn said of the festival after the myriad of three-day events was over. “Each year allows for it to be different and exciting, and it’s just fun.
“It’s a good event, and I think that’s what keeps it going in a way that each person or committee that comes forward to organize it can put their own spin on it, and it just really keeps it exciting.”
Jocelynn could be seen throughout the event moderating, taking photos, or talking with individuals. Dan was zipping around between events on a golf cart, allowing him to get to know some of the individuals and stories that comprise the festival.
It’s something the duo loves to immerse themselves in, having lived in the festival atmosphere of New Orleans prior to living in Texas.
“As we started to get all the plans together, it was fun to create your own little version of the festival,” Dan said of the anticipation leading up to festival day. “As we got closer and closer, it started getting more exciting and then we got here all of a sudden.
“During the festival, it was incredible. We saw people coming into town. We saw artists who were excited, setting up their booth.
“The golf cart was pretty funny because it gave me time with individuals, people who needed help to make it down there (a mile walk to the river during the storytelling by the river kickoff event).
“But it was so interesting talking one on one or one on two with people and getting their stories and what brought them here and how they heard about the festival and just hearing about how people loved this area. It was really rewarding.”
One of the new events added to the festival this year was the Taste of Bluff. The Meyers considered it a huge success.
“I think the Taste of Bluff was phenomenal,” Jocelynn said. “Everybody loved the food.
“We had a long line and the restaurants just did an excellent job of showcasing their menus and showing what they are capable of while keeping it festival-friendly.”
The Meyers have already started gathering ideas for next year’s festival, some of which they received from event evaluations sent out this year.
“We’ve already started reviewing the comments,” Dan said. “People want to do jam sessions.
“They were inspired by the music, and I think they want to do more of that.”
Jocelynn added that there are many moving parts to the festival and it’s about highlighting many different forms of art, whether spoken word, written word, visual art, or music.
And there is much more of those arts that can be incorporated into future festivals.
“Dan and I incorporated more music than in years past,” Jocelynn said.
“I think it went over pretty successfully. We had a very eclectic lineup.
“We wanted there to be something for everyone and we feel like we accomplished that.
We put different types of music in front of people that they hadn’t necessarily listened to and they enjoyed that. It’s about branching out.”
In the future, whether the Meyers are the organizers or not, they feel the festival is simply about giving people the opportunity to branch out and experience something they may not have on their own.
It’s something the Meyers feel gives people a deeper understanding of particular creative outlets they may not be familiar with.
“I think that may be the goal for the future,” Jocelynn said. “Something that really stood out to me this year, and because we are new to Bluff, was just the community that came together to make this possible.”
That community involvement is something the Meyers feel drives the event and has allowed it to perpetuate for 14 years and running.