History of Deep Ellum Arts Festival
The Deep Ellum Arts Festival first debuted in 1994 as a one block street party and has since become one of the largest visual and performing Arts Festivals in the region achieving international recognition for presenting the finest in original performing and visual artists. The festival now consists of over 100 original bands and singer-songwriters performing on 5 stages, 200-juried visual artists displaying and selling their one of a kind works, spontaneous street performances, over 30 restaurants serving scrumptious trendy and classic foods & beverages, and great people watching covering six city blocks and adjacent spaces in the heart of the Deep Ellum Entertainment district. The festival has always been free to attend due to sponsorship underwriting and in-kind support, various grants, exhibitor booth fees and keeping a percentage of all food and beverage sales generated at the festival.
The first event was produced with the cooperation of the newly formed Deep Ellum Association headed up by Don Blanton, a major Deep Ellum property owner and visionary and Stephen Millard and his company Main Events International (MEI) also known as “The Celebration Engineers®”. Stephen Millard was the original producer of the award-winning MAIN ST. Fort Worth Arts Festival from 1986-1994. During MEI’s tenure, Main St. became nationally recognized as one of the Top 10 Events of its kind in the country. Millard also founded many of the most acclaimed events in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex, including the Bedford Blues Festival, The Dallas Festival of Art & Jazz, Irving Texas July 4th Music and Fireworks Festival, Gran Fiesta de Fort Worth, Texas Hydrofest, Generation eXpo Music Festival and numerous other major concerts and special events.
MEI’s founder Stephen Millard’s expertise in managing multi-faceted organizations and special events was honed through a previous fifteen-year career of executive and general management experience with large world-class hotels and resorts, operated by both the Hilton and Hyatt Hotels Corporations.