Changes coming to Summerfest

Erotic City will return to Summerfest in 2018.

Photo by Emily Mentzer
Erotic City will return to Summerfest in 2018.

DALLAS — Summerfest, the peak of summer events in Dallas, is undergoing a renovation.

By next summer, Summerfest — or perhaps the festival formerly known as Summerfest — will be shorter and more community-focused, said Ashley Kahl, the Dallas Area Chamber of Commerce & Visitors Center programs and events manager.

“Collectively as an organization, we felt the need to make it a more community-inspired event,” Kahl said. “Get it back to its roots.”

Summerfest started out as a fundraiser for an extracurricular club at Dallas High School, she said, though she’s not certain of the year it began. That morphed in to what was known for decades as “Krazy Dayz.”

Eventually it was renamed Summerfest, a four-day festival that took place for three days in downtown before moving for the last day to Dallas City Park.

Kahl said Sunday’s Tom Newton Car Show, Art in the Park and Breakfast in the Park, sponsored by Dallas Rotary and Dallas Arts Association, won’t be affected by the changes.

“They are still on board to do those,” Kahl said. “It’s such a fun day.”

It’s the downtown events, which the visitors center is responsible for hosting, that will see the changes.

The visitors center has formed a five-person committee that will begin meeting in November to redesign the festival.

Each person will be focused on a part of the event, such as entertainment, food and beverages, and the parade.

Kahl said she wants to draw in more youth to the festival with plans to host baking and art contests for children in kindergarten through high school. She’s also joining forces with Dallas High School social studies classes to get idea on rebranding the festival from students’ perspective.

“Kids in the class will possibly come up with a new name, come up with themes, come up with things they would like to see at Summerfest,” Kahl said.

At least to begin with, the retooled event will be cut to two days, Friday and Saturday.

“Thursday kind of gets overlooked,” Kahl said. “It’s seen as a set-up day. If we can do it really, really well on Friday and Saturday, I would like to see that happen.”

Expanding on the success of last year’s Prince tribute group Erotic City concert at the amphitheater, Kahl said the two days will feature four concerts, complete with food vendors and a beer garden. On the schedule already is Erotic City and Port-a-Party, which performs dance hits from the ’70s and ’90s.

Continuing with the community vibe, the 2018 theme is simply “Orange & Black,” DHS’ school colors. Kahl noted it’s broad enough to allow people to be creative with parade floats.

“It more interpretive, so they can do something fun,” Kahl said. “They can do Dragons; they can do Beavers; they can do Halloween, even, in July.”

Kahl said she’s open to more ideas for events and changes as the new Summerfest takes shape.

“I welcome feedback,” she said. “I can’t do this on my own, so any help or any feedback would be great.”

Contact Ashley Kahl at: 503-623-2564 or

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