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PARK CITY — On a shuttle ride to Main Street — the beating heart of Park City's Sundance Film Festival — Kelly Sadlowski thought back 11 years ago to her first Sundance experience.
"I wasn't married. I didn't have two kids. It's so funny how I've changed so much since I first started coming here," she said.
Yet after more than a decade, Sadlowski said she still takes the yearly trip from her home in Tampa, Florida, to snowy Park City — even though what draws her there has also evolved over the years.
Before she became a wife and a mother, she'd go for the "party scene" and the stargazing. But now, she said, it's the culture, artistic diversity and wealth of opportunity that sucks her in.
"It feels so hopeful. So many people fulfill their dreams out here," Sadlowski said. "You see these normal people doing these incredible things, that you don't have to be a Hollywood marquee to be successful in the film industry. I feel like if I were to ever take on something like this, I feel like Sundance would be my marker, my standard."
Ever since its first event in 1981, Sundance has a long history of gathering filmmakers, film industry professionals and film enthusiasts from all over the world in Utah.
Last year, an estimated 46,000 people attended Sundance, with tourists spending more than $50 million in Utah's economy, on top of more than $10 million spent on Sundance's operational expenses, according to a report by the University of Utah's Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute.
Despite freezing temperatures and snowstorms, Park City was bustling during the first weekend of the 10-day, 2017 festival — but not without a few bumps in the road.
Saturday, ticket sales were temporarily halted around 11 a.m. after Sundance officials said their box office was "shut down" because of a cyber attack. Shortly after, online sales were restored.
Sunday's snowy conditions brought a power outage that affected more than 2,500 customers in the Park City area, Rocky Mountain Power reported. As a result, three Sundance screenings — "Mars Generation," "Landline" and "Dolores" were rescheduled, according to a message Sundance sent festivalgoers through its alert system.
To add to the crowds, thousands attended a women's march on Saturday — a thrill for Sadlowski, even though it stalled buses and created a new challenge to attend a screening on time.
"Back home, if someone told me it would cost $25 to go to a movie and I would have to walk an hour in the snow to get there, it would never happen," she laughed. "But we made it; it was great."
Among the stars visiting Utah, Sadlowski said she saw Keanu Reeves at a screening for "To the Bone."
Other celebrities spotted or expected at this year's event include Jennifer Aniston, Jack Black, Kristen Stewart, Emily Browning and many others.
First-time Sundance attendees Jeff Annison, Terri Lubaroff and Paul Scanlan said they saw Jason Segal for a screening of "The Discovery" and met with Elija Wood for their endeavors to expand their new startup business, Legion M, a fan-owned entertainment company.
"We've seen a lot of awesome people," Lubaroff said.
Sundance is a prime place for startup businesses and for others aiming to make a living in the entertainment industry, Annison said, whether it be for inspiration or networking.
"Everybody and everything is so accessible," Scanlan said. "Everyone's warm and nice to each other; there's not a lot of pretension. Everyone's just mingling."
Festivalgoer Wren Barnes, of Holladay, said she began a career as a film producer and actress, and Sundance is an excellent opportunity for people like her making a living in the film industry.
"I love Sundance for Utah," she said. "It's the time of the year when Hollywood comes to our backyard, and it's a beautiful opportunity to meet people from all over the world."