Chilton County Arts Festival this weekend

By STEVEN CALHOUN/Staff Writer

The Chilton County Arts Festival is this weekend at the Clanton Conference and Performing Arts Center.

A wide variety of art will be on display at the free event. Everything from paintings to wood sculptures will be available for purchase.

The event was made possible by grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Alabama Arts Council. This recognition is outstanding for the Chilton County Arts Council, according to Suanne Hoyt, the council’s president.

The Alabama arts council believed in Hoyt’s vision for the festival:

“It’s about the community; it’s about creating together,” said Hoyt. “It’s about art, but it’s about people.”

Hoyt said the council is very excited for this weekend, as it is the culmination of their efforts for the past year. Many people, including some local artists, are helping run the festival. Some of Hoyt’s art students will be helping as well.

“It’s been great just to have everybody work together. It’s a pretty big project,” said Hoyt.

She said the goal of the CCAC has been to create a destination festival for artists and art lovers in Chilton County. This year, they are doing more than ever to make this dream a reality. There are currently 37 vendors on the roster for the event.

Hoyt said the council is fairly selective with who they allow to be a vendor, and all the goods must be handcrafted.

“Exposing the community to better art than they’re used to seeing … sort of gets their feet wet and interested in art,” said Hoyt. “We believe the arts are critical to peoples’ well being for a lot of reasons … Making things is important. It’s good mental health for everybody.”

Hoyt said she thinks it will be encouraging for people to come in and see art from local artists. She believes it makes art more real and accessible than going to a museum, and provides aspiring artists a chance to talk to artists and learn how the process works.

One artist who will be a vendor at the festival is Mack Gothard, a member of the Alabama Gourd Society and director of the festival. His group creates works of art out of gourds.

“Everyone thinks a gourd is a birdhouse. There’s other things. We do carvings; we do sculptures, everything,” said Gothard.

The Arts Festival will also have such notable artists as wood turner Ben Smith, who creates sculptures and carvings from glued wood.

“He’s an unbelievable artist; it’s museum quality art, no doubt,” said Hoyt.

In addition to the many visual artists, there will be performers and musicians both Saturday and Sunday. Performances will include Tammy’s Twirlers, Donna’s Dancers, a talent show and a performance of Peter Pan.

Musical guests include #1 Country Gospel singer Tina Wakefield on Saturday morning, followed by singer/songwriters Rick and Jilda Watson as well as the Usual Suspects Jazz Band. On Sunday there will be performances from Baylie Vinson and Alyssa Lemire.

The Chilton County Arts Festival takes place Nov. 5 and 6, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. both days. The Clanton Conference and Performing Arts Center is located at 1850 Lay Dam Road on the Jefferson State campus. Parking and admission is free.

For more information, find the Chilton County Arts Festival on Facebook, visit chiltoncountyartscouncil.com or call 205-245-9441.

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