KEARNEY, NE — Dozens of artists and hundreds of shoppers flock to Harmon Park in Kearney every year during the second weekend in July.

And it’s all thanks to Larry Peterson. He started Art in the Park 51 years ago, directed it for 35 years and has operated a booth every year.

“I’m 87 and I’ll be here as long as I’m healthy,” Peterson said.

He got the idea when getting his PhD at the University of Kansas. His wife and him saw a few artists in a park and thought they could organize something bigger in Kearney.

“It was pretty much a hit right away," Peterson said. "The first year we probably only had 10 or 12 people but then we worked up to we almost had 100 people one time.”

Now the Kearney Artists Guild is more selective and hosts about 60 artists. Peterson is one of them and sells his acrylic and water color paintings with the help of his daughters Penny, who is local, and Jane, who comes from Texas.

“It’s kind of a family reunion," Peterson said. "They just kind of plan on that for their vacations and so forth.”

The Peterson booth isn’t necessarily about the money. It’s about seeing familiar faces, sharing the love of art and carrying on tradition.

“Well, it just means it’s part of my life. I’ve been here for so long,” Peterson said.

Art in the Park is open from 9:00 to 4:00 on Sunday.