People dance during a performance by Brave Combo to close out Denton Arts & Jazz Festival on Sunday, April 28 in Denton. The 29th iteration of the festival featured music, art, food and fun for all ages at Quakertown Park this past weekend.

Music pulsed from every corner of Quakertown Park on Sunday, just as it had for the previous two days.

Hundreds of thousands of people are estimated to have attended the 39th-annual Denton Arts & Jazz Festival this weekend.

Performers flocked to seven stages across the 32 acres for the three-day event.

Carol Short, founder and executive director of the festival, estimated well over 200,000 people made their way from all over to attend some aspect of this past weekend’s festivities.

“They come from all over because we have artists that come from all over the United States,” Short said.

Liz Seibt, festival president, and Short said more than 200 vendors come for the festival. Those vendors, in addition to the more than 3,000 musicians, artists and performers, are managed in part by hundreds of volunteers and workers.

“The food has changed,” Short said. “More vegan, but still the old-fashioned hot dogs [and] ribs. Trends in the food have changed with the times.”

Festivalgoers — those without close parking — are first greeted by the sound of music from several blocks away. What initially is only the suggestion of a live band can be mistaken for a car radio or house party.

The sound of children at play intermittently cuts through the music as one approaches, and the steady roar of conversation rises with it. Countless smells surround the park while bits of jewelry play in sun or lamplight.

Clothing, both commercially produced and handmade, fluttered freely in the air outside vendor booths Sunday afternoon into the evening.

Paul and Cathy Johnson were parked on their little patch of land with their assortment of tie-dyed merchandise. Psychedelic socks, hats, overalls, shirts, hoodies and more shifted and breathed with the breeze in the open air of their booth behind the Festival Stage on Sunday.

They sell their merchandise as The Tye Dye Guy across parts of Nevada and their home state of Colorado, but the jazz fest is their only stop in Texas, where they bring their more than 25 years of experience every year.

“We’re kind of ramping down over the years,” Paul Johnson said, but he still has no doubt they’ll be back next year.

Despite the constant influx of new vendors selling food, art and clothing, there are several groups that make the trek to the jazz fest every year.

“We also have people coming back for the same artists and the same vendors,” Seibt said. “They come back every year, and they want to go to that spot so they can buy art from that person.”

The couple started making tie-dye for Paul Johnson’s record shop in Denver.

“[We] wanted tie-dye product in it because it was an old-style hippie shop,” Paul Johnson said. “Our sources for tie-dye were very unreliable. They would take off and follow the [Grateful] Dead and not come back for a while, and our inventory [would drop].”

They’d both tried their hand at the process before, so they gave it a shot. The business eventually became their main focus, so they shut down the record store to make tie-dye full time.

“Somebody’s in the basement every day dying, washing clothes and whatnot,” he said.

Even in their relatively remote corner of the festival, live music can clearly be heard at all times.

Once inside the festival boundaries, loose as they may have been, music could be heard anywhere. It served to bring people together in fits of applause, cheering and dancing, but also to keep them blissfully apart.

Spread across nearly every available patch of grass were folding chairs and blankets occupied by friends and family, but the speakers walled off their conversation from those nearby — blanketing them in jazz.

MARSHALL REID can be reached at 940-566-6862 and via Twitter at @MarshallKReid.

Recommended for you