Velour Live Music Gallery owner Corey Fox and musician Joshua James joined forces in 2010 to bring the local music community together for one day in American Fork at a legendary event called Fork Fest.
Nine years later, the Harrington Center for the Arts is bringing the event back in support of Utah’s “incredible music scene,” according to Summerisa Stevens, festival director and Harrington Center for the Arts president.
“With Rooftop Concert Series no longer happening … we’re really hoping that this will be the stage that allows for the community to come together and support artists, and especially local artists,” Stevens told the Daily Herald in a recent phone interview.
The Harrington Center for the Arts is a local nonprofit that aims to support the arts in education and performance as well as remodel the historic Harrington School in American Fork into a theater and community center for the arts.
“Our organization saw that there was a huge need in North Utah County for an event that focused on supporting Utah-grown bands,” Stevens said. “We did some research and we found some articles that talked about Fork Fest, which had happened in 2010, so we reached out to Corey Fox and Joshua James about bringing back this festival, and we formed a partnership, and we’ve given the festival new life.”
Fork Fest 2019 is set to spotlight 28 local bands on three stages Saturday at Art Dye Park in American Fork.
“Besides our 28 bands that we selected, we had close to 40 other submissions of other bands from Utah that want to be a part of this festival, so it’s definitely something that is needed, just by that response,” Stevens said. “It’s really a celebration of Utah’s vibrant music landscape.”
Many of the returning headliners from 2010 were “extremely excited” when they were invited to perform at Fork Fest again, according to Stevens.
“Having been nine years, they never thought it was going to happen again,” Stevens said.
This year’s event also aims to be family friendly, featuring activities, a foam machine, vendors and food trucks.
“We really want it to be something where everyone can participate in Utah’s music scene,” Stevens said.
Stevens said the Harrington Center for the Arts has worked closely on Fork Fest with the city of American Fork, which is “very supportive” of the center’s plans to remodel the Harrington School and revitalize downtown American Fork.
“Since it was a free event last time, they didn’t anticipate how many people were going to be there, so they didn’t have correct security and those kind of things,” Stevens said. “We’ve definitely crossed our t’s and dotted our i’s with this festival and made sure that all of the permits and everything that needs to be in place will happen for this festival.”
Fox said he feels excited, but also a lot of pressure about the festival coming back this year.
“Fork Fest 2010 was truly magical and set the bar pretty high,” Fox told the Daily Herald in an email. “We are definitely pushing the production value and scale on this year’s festival, but are also hoping to keep the community feel of the first one.”
This year’s event “will legitimately be the most impressive gathering of local bands playing at one place at the same time in the last 10 years,” according to Fox.
“How many places around the country can host an all local music festival and have it generate this much excitement?” Fox said. “We have a very special music scene.”
Fox said the realistic goal with Fork Fest 2019 is to “get people excited and lay the groundwork for this to become a sustainable annual event that will enhance the community for years to come.”
Stevens said there are already plans in place for a Fork Fest 2020, and she thinks the event could eventually grow to become a two-day festival.
“We hope it to be something that grows every single year and really helps the community to come together to support local artists,” Stevens said. “With the amount of submissions that we received, that’s definitely something that is feasible.”
Fox said he thinks the most important thing an event like Fork Fest does for the local music scene is “it takes all of this amazing talent off of the intimate Velour stage and ideally introduces it to the masses that may not know about it.”
“I want this festival to bring together the local music community to celebrate what they already knew that they had, but to also introduce it to the mainstream public who didn’t know what they were missing,” Fox said. “That’s how you grow an art community.”