Chilton County Arts Festival a success

Festivalgoers admire the work of local painter Allen Massey on Saturday at the Chilton County Arts Festival.(Photo by Steven Calhoun)

Festivalgoers admire the work of local painter Allen Massey on Saturday at the Chilton County Arts Festival.(Photo by Steven Calhoun)

By STEVEN CALHOUN/Staff Writer

The Chilton County Arts Festival was this past weekend, drawing many curious citizens to the Clanton Conference and Performing Arts Center.

“We thought it went very well,” said Suanne Hoyt, president of the Chilton County Arts Council.

Hoyt said the festival documented the attendance of about 1,000 people over the course of the weekend.

Nearly 40 artists set up booths in the conference hall at Jefferson State Community College. Artists sold a wide variety of their own work, including paintings, jewelry, woodwork, glassware, pottery, sculptures and even carved gourds.

Local artists performed for visitors as they browsed the artists’ collections. Randall Edwards, owner of the Pokana Talahassi music shop in Clanton, performed with his band around noon Saturday.

Next door in the performance hall, the Usual Suspects Jazz Band put on a show filled with classic jazz hits.

Back in the conference center, one vendor had more to do with the Arts Festival than one would guess.

Elizabeth Byrd was selling her paintings at a booth near the back of the conference hall. She said she founded the Chilton County Arts Council in 2009, but stepped off the board in recent years. This year, she said she was just enjoying the benefits of being a member and having a booth at the festival.

One couple came from Montevallo with a bizarre collection of goods for sale. Set up under the frame of a canopy tent, Craig and Melinda Doriety’s shop had metal sculptures, lamps made of wooden hands and even jewelry made from vintage vacuum tubes.

A nearby shop had sculptures and ornaments of varying shapes, sizes and colors. Every art piece on the table was made of gourds. The shop’s owner, Jim Jones, explained the process of drying, carving and painting gourds to create beautiful decorations.

The artists at this year’s festival experienced great success in sales, according to Hoyt.

“Most of them made a lot more money than they’re used to making, even [compared to] some of the other festivals,” said Hoyt. “That was one of our big goals.”

Hoyt said the date for the festival is booked for next year already. The festival will be in July to allow more people to come without missing football. Also, more artists will be able to come because there are other big festivals pulling on them at the beginning of November, according to Hoyt.

The Arts Council is also planning March Gourd Madness. To keep up with the Arts Council, visit chiltoncountyartscouncil.com or search Chilton County Arts Council on Facebook.

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