2019 NIC Fest puts Casper’s museum in the spotlight

Crews install the artist tents in preparation for the 2019 NIC Fest on Thursday morning. (Dan Cepeda, Oil City)

The Nicolaysen Art Museum plans to be in the center of the action during an event-filled weekend in Casper.

“It’s a way to open up our grounds to the whole state,” said the Nic’s development director Jenniey Elliott.

“We have quite a few other events kicking off or ending at NIC Fest,” said Elliott.

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The 14th annual NIC Fest at the museum is tied in with the CNFR, Casper PRIDE Week and other events such as a run for Make-A-Wish on Saturday morning.

The Nicolaysen is decorated for Casper PRIDE events, which coincide with this year’s NIC Fest. (Dan Cepeda, Oil City)

The annual festival filled with art, food and music was moved from late July to early June three years ago to tap into tourists and contestants in town for the start of CNFR, and also to avoid the late summer heat.

“We’ll have 13 food trucks,” said Elliott. “Everybody’s local favorites will be here, but we’re bringing in different things as well.”

Along with local vendors, the Nic brought in a Greek food truck from Powell, an artisan cupcake maker, a baklava maker and a “fancy lemonade” maker from Florida.

The layout is similar to the past few years.

“Basically it’s a whole circle around the building with something to do or see all around,” said executive director Ann Ruble.

An area in back is set aside specifically for children’s activities, including water fights and a jump zone. Beech Street between the Nic and the library will be set aside for food vendors and the beer tent. The community marketplace lines the north side, the artist tents are on the south, and the lawn on the west side is set aside for live music.

The festival has attracted a number of bands from out of state.

“We’ve been listening to demos people send us and picking bands that haven’t been here yet but have a cool sound and mixing up the genres,” said Ruble.

“We have jazz, blues, opera, country, rock, folk…we have everything,” she said.

As state arts funding has evaporated in recent years, the importance of NIC Fest is greater than ever both for fundraising and community awareness.

“Last year I had a lot of people come here and were new to town and didn’t even know we had a museum,” said Ruble.

Ruble says in its 14 years, the festival has become a summer tradition in Casper.

“I want people to have happy memories of coming here so they want to keep coming back,” said Ruble.

2019 NIC Fest at 400 East Collins runs Friday from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m., Saturday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The event and museum access is free.

A full schedule of events can be seen here.