Sundance Film Festival offers more than just films

Ari Davis
Thousands of people flock to the Sundance Film Festival each year to attend films in theaters like the Egyptian Theatre. (Ari Davis)

Visitors shuffle up and down the crowded, hilly streets of Park City, scouting out the best films, restaurants, galleries and maybe even celebrities during the annual Sundance Film Festival.

The annual Sundance Film Festival, scheduled Jan. 18-28, offers independent film fans a chance to see and critique new works. But for the moments in between the shows, there are plenty of options to keep visitors engaged and entertained along Park City’s historic Main Street.

Most parties at the Sundance Film Festival require the right connections, but there are maany things to see and experience in Park City that won’t cost a dime.

Galleries line the streets, offering locals and visitors a chance to experience the culture of historic Park City through their artistic style.

Park City is also home to several local musicians, many of whom take turns playing the streets for passersby during the festival.

Tanner Benson, a musician and Park City local said the town is unique in its dedication and focus on art as a community. Benson came out with his cousin, Guy Soper, to have fun playing music.

“I feel like a lot of schools in Utah… football is the big thing, but here it’s the opposite,” Benson said. “Arts is the big thing. Street gigs like this are really low stress. I grew up watching people play on the street, and I’ve always wanted to do it.”

Soper has enjoyed playing with Benson because it is a time to hang back, have fun and do what they love.

“It’s really fun actually, cause… whenever we get together we usually just have fun and jam, and then it’s kinda fun playing those songs for everyone,” Soper said.

Ari Davis
Guitarist Tim Done and drummer Brad Clark, members of the band The Dirt Napper’s, play their music on Main Street in Park City. (Ari Davis)

The Dirt Nappers, another local band specializing in southern rock n’ roll, came up to take part in the scene and network with other local artists.

“I’ve met some really cool folks from the local scene,” the Dirt Nappers guitarist Tim Done said. “I think a lot of the connections we make are more out of playing in the valleys; this is just good exposure.”

Visitors may also be able to listen in on the ASCPAP Music Cafe, which is free for all festival credential holders 21 and older. Last year, the cafe, located at the Rich Haines Gallery, hosted performances by Michael Franti, Rooney, Clare Bowen, Josh Kelley and Andy Shauf, according to the Sundance Institute’s website.

The Music Cafe does performances all day, according to Benson who has attended with friends in the past, which means there is a need for food during those long days filled with music.

Local restaurants, bars and dessert shops prepare for Sundance in anticipation of long wait lines and constant customers throughout the week.

A group of friends stands together to take a picture at the Sundance Film Festival. (Ari Davis)

Main Street Pizza & Noodle employee Elise Bush said that she does all she can to prepare herself for the chaos that will ensue.

“I try to sleep as much as I can in preparation for the Sundance Film Festival,” Bush said. “I like to keep to myself the week before because I have to gear up to work crazy hours during the festival.”

Business remains constantly busy at Main Street Pizza & Noodle during the festival. Last year, the restaurant had a non-stop wait list throughout the whole week, according to Bush.

Students should plan for lines and wait time when trying to find food on Park City’s Main Street when attending the Sundance Film Festival. If waiting in line at a restaurant is not an option, visitors can find vendors giving out free food and drinks.

Local and Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory employee Lexi Burchardt said walking Main Street and talking with people can score students food and prizes.

Ari Davis
Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory, as well as other local businesses on Park City’s Main Street, experience an increase in customers during the Sundance Film Festival. (Ari Davis)

“Just walking up and down the street we got three different kinds of water bottles today,” Burchardt said. “We were also given free drinks and pot stickers. If you walk around Main Street enough, you will find food to eat.”

Bush and Burchardt, both being locals, try to stay away from the madness that Main Street brings while playing host to film goers and tourists alike. When out-of-towners flood the streets, the locals take to the slopes.

“During the film festival, it really makes for the best skiing of the season,” Bush added. “Nobody is on the hill. Everybody comes into town for (the Sundance Film Festival). So, if you can find parking to ski, you are pretty much golden.”

But, if students are looking to get the full Sundance experience, Park City native Josh Thorn suggests that visitors stay on Main Street. Riverhorse on Main, O’Shucks Bar and Grill and Prime Steakhouse and Piano Bar are great places to check out, according to Thorn.

Visitors will find that the Sundance Film Festival provides opportunities to experience art, music and food even if they don’t have the time or money to attend official films.

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