FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. - The fourth annual Hopi Native Arts and Music Festival takes place Sept. 28-29 in Heritage Square in downtown Flagstaff. Organizers expect to draw several thousand visitors daily to Flagstaff.
The Hopi Tribe Economic Development Corporation (HTEDC) sponsors the event. The group's mission is to create economic opportunities for the Hopi people. Kevin Lombardo, CEO of the corporation, believes that the festival in Heritage Square is an economic opportunity that creates a venue where people can come and gather and present their wares and have others come and look, and hopefully, buy them.
"It's been a great avenue for artisans and for people who have a passion or an interest in Native American art to get exposed to some," Lombardo said. "It is a win-win for people."
Organizers started the festival four years ago during the height of the economic recession as a way to try and bring in income for Hopi people and their families, especially at the beginning of the school year.
This year, Lisa Talayumptewa and others from HTEDC who developed the idea hope to expand the event into a true festival instead of a market. Flagstaff's City Council approved a street closure of Aspen Avenue between San Francisco and Leroux Streets for the event. The council wants to partner with the corporation to promote a diversity of arts, culture and education opportunities through the festival.
Talayumptewa, said that all Native American artisans are welcome and several notable Navajo artisans are included alongside notable Hopi artisans. The festival will include bands, dance groups, flute players and Hoop dancers.
"We've taken the great concept that Lisa and the team here developed four years ago and this is really the next evolution," Lombardo said.
While there are other Native American festivals, including the Santa Fe Indian market, the corporation is hoping to create a place for tribes located further north to sell their art and less expensive place for those artists to sell their art.
"Our vision is to create something where Flagstaff becomes a destination for Native American art," Lombardo said. "In partnering with the city it creates another reason for Flagstaff to be a destination place."
Talayumtewa said any money the corporation makes from this festival, or any of the other festivals it puts on, is split between Hopi and a charity in the city where the event takes place. The corporation picks the charity.
"This one will be Flagstaff and the charity is Child Protective Services," Talayumptewa said. "Last year was Flagstaff Unified School District for school supplies and school supplies on the reservation."
HTEDC owns three commercial properties in Flagstaff-Heritage Square, Continental Plaza, and Kachina Square. The group's headquarters are in Flagstaff. Lombardo said it is important to give back to the city.
"This isn't a revenue generator for the corporation, we don't really make money on this," Lombardo said. "It is our way of being good neighbors and it strengthens our partnership with the city."
Some downtown Flagstaff businesses are participating by playing host to an artist in their shops during the festival.
"I think it's someplace for the whole family to come to and enjoy," Talayumptewa. "Just to spend the whole day looking around and enjoy the entertainment."