Kentuck Arts Festival
I grew up in Tuscaloosa and we have a family tradition of many years: we go to the Kentuck Arts Festival every year. It has been going since the early seventies, and Mom was actually in on its early inception. She had a booth where she sold quirky pine cone animals with felt ears and tails and paws. The festival’s founder, Georgine Clarke, was a good friend of my mom’s; my dad and Georgine’s husband worked together as law professors. Georgine just died this past year and the festival had a memorial up for her. It is now one of the largest arts festivals in the southeast.
Amanda and I drove down to go to Kentuck again this year. She has been coming with me since she was in a stroller (and let me tell you, rolling that stroller over all those tree roots and rocks is quite a feat). I was hoping this year that she would more be able to appreciate the pieces of art, but it didn’t quite work out that way. She had big whiny bored little girl fits after we had looked at several tents, and wanted to go to one of the kids tents to make a craft project. One great thing about the festival: they have a whole lot of activities for children, and we spent the day alternating: a row of art tents, a kid’s activity, a row of art tents, a kid’s activity.
The first thing we hit when we got there was the first thing we always go to because it is next to the entrance gate: the quilting tent. They have an activity for kids too: coloring a quilt block, so Amanda did that while we admired the quilts.
We saw a beautiful quilt glowing with the sun behind it and I took a picture. I also took a picture of Amanda with her quilt block:
We then headed off down the way to the other tents. We found numerous metal sculptures meant for putting in yards; I loved the look of a tall metal flower and took a photo:
This festival has a stunning amount of unusual folk art; it is not the usual “crafts” fair at all. All the pieces are very unique, frequently folk or very contemporary, and the jewelry is outstanding. You see a lot of intriguing mixed media.
Then we took Amanda to get her face painted.
There are beautiful textiles, crochet, knitting and silk print clothing. I lingered over several filmy silk pieces but decided that as much as they were beautiful and I loved them, they were too transparent and I probably would not wear them. I was not paying two hundred dollars for something I was not going to wear.
We found a booth where a husband and wife had beaded numerous beautiful household objects. The woman in the tent let Amanda try the bead stringer that beaded the beads into the strands that they use to glue down onto the objects. Amanda did impressively well and the nice lady let her keep a strand of beads as a necklace.
We then took a break for Amanda and took her to the Musical Petting Zoo, which was a tent full of musical instruments that the kids could test out. (They carefully cleaned the mouthpieces between kids.) Amanda got to test out all manner of things: percussion, horns, woodwinds, and some unusual ethnic pieces.
There were numerous tricked-out vehicles: cars, vans, and trailers. Some were painted with primitive art and some were essentially collaged.
We all had a great time. Throughout the day, Amanda got to make a quilt block, get her face painted, paint a tile, make a clay sculpture, make a cornhusk doll, and make her own tie-dyed t-shirt. Mom and I did a lot of shopping, but I admit we didn’t buy much. She admired a cloth collage of “drunken circles” that was mounted and framed horizontally, and wanted it to put over her bed, but it was over a thousand dollars, and she just wasn’t sure the colors were right. I did find an adorable knit green cap that was decorated with beads that callled my name and I just HAD to buy it.
I have wanted to show my jewelry at Kentuck for a long time, but the jewelry there has progressed to a level of sophistication that I lack. I will need to hone my metal working skills if I am to make anything good enough to show there. The show is one of the most highly evolved that I have seen, and I look forward to keeping it as a yearly family tradition.