August 25, 2012 9:10:45 PM
Jan Swoope - email@example.com
The annual Prairie Arts Festival held in downtown West Point is more than a Labor Day weekend tradition -- it's a showcase of creativity and a hometown reunion, rolled into one.
Crowds topping 30,000 are expected to fill Sally Kate Winters Park and surrounding streets from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 1, to visit approximately 300 vendors and revel in live music, family activities and mouth-watering food.
Festival guidelines have been tweaked in recent years to emphasize fine art and handcrafted items.
"The whole point is a true arts and crafts festival; that's what we've been able to achieve," said Cynthia Wilson, who joined the West Point/Clay County Growth Alliance staff in March, as director of community development.
A total of $5,000 will be awarded to fine arts competition winners.
"I think this year is a record turnout of vendor applications we've received," said longtime festival volunteer and vendor coordinator Lisa Klutts. "Even a week out, we still have people calling, hoping for a space."
In addition to booths offering everything from paintings to pottery, the 34th annual event features entertainment on three stages, as well as a Kids Town area, plus a street rod and antique car show at the Mossy Oak Outlet on Highway 45 Alternate. The West Point Fire Department will be on hand with water games. The West Point Police Department will offer fingerprinting for children. Registration for a 5K run begins at 7 a.m. outside the Growth Alliance at 510 E. Broad St.; the race begins at 8 a.m.
For many West Point natives living elsewhere, festival weekend means a trip back to Clay County to visit family and meet-and-greet friends on the street.
"There's always at least one class reunion that weekend, and we welcome everyone who is here for the Howlin' Wolf Blues Festival the night before and for Mississippi State's football game later on Saturday," Klutts said.
As a service to festival-goers, shuttles will run from the Mossy Oak Outlet to Pass It On at 407 W. Main St., and from Annabelle's Antiques at 1125 E. Main St., to the intersection of Court and Broad Streets downtown.
"We have super volunteers that help make this event the success it is; with the festival just days away, they're hard at work," Wilson said. "Be sure to put on your shopping shoes and join the fun."
Follow the Prairie Arts Festival on Facebook. For more information, visit wpnet.org, or contact the Growth Alliance, 662-494-5121.
Prairie Arts entertainment
(Commerce Street, by the library)
9-10:30 a.m. - Davo
11 a.m.-12:30 p.m. - Keith & Margie Brown
1-2 p.m. - Chad Peavy Band
3-4:30 p.m. - Arcadia
(Court and Broad Streets intersection)
9-10:30 a.m. - Kay Bain and Morning Show band
11-11:45 a.m. - The Watsons
12-12:45 p.m. - Johnny & Jennifer Hamlin
1-1:45 p.m. - Matt Warren
2-2:45 p.m. - The Caldwell Singers
3-3:45 p.m. - Swisaboi
(Sally Kate Winters Park)
9 a.m. - 5K winners announced
9:30-10 a.m. - Dynasty Show Choir
10:30-11 a.m. - Tim "Mookie" Wilson
11 a.m. - Juried Art awards announced
11:30 a.m.-12 p.m.. - More "Mookie"
12:30-2 p.m. - Tom Foolery
2:30-3:30 p.m. - Joe Johnson
(Source: Growth Alliance)
Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.