August 25, 2013 11:31:21 AM
Jan Swoope - [email protected]
The approach of Labor Day triggers autumnal dreams and football fantasies, but it also heralds West Point's Prairie Arts Weekend. The Clay County city's population will swell when thousands of festival-goers and music fans converge for the Aug. 31 Prairie Arts Festival, as well as the Howlin' Wolf Memorial Blues Festival the preceding evening.
About 300 fine arts, crafts and food vendors will open to the public from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday in downtown West Point, from Main Street to Westbrook Street and throughout Sally Kate Winters Park. Early-birds can cheer on runners and walkers in a 5K at 8 a.m. Race registration begins at 7 a.m. in front of the Growth Alliance at 510 E. Broad St.
Cynthia Wilson is director of community development with the Growth Alliance and co-chairs the Prairie Arts Festival planning committee with Lisa Klutts and Kathy Dyess.
"For probably the last four or five years, the committee has been trying to take the festival back to its roots of being a true art and crafts festival, and we've been successful in doing that," said Wilson Tuesday, noting that all vendor products must be made from a non-commercial mold.
Numerous artisans entered in the Fine Art competition specialize in painting, photography, handmade jewelry, items of fiber, wood and glass, mixed media, graphics, drawing, sculpture and pottery.
A Kids Town area will offer ticketed activities including a petting zoo, bungee jump and inflatables, and 31 food vendors will be on hand with everything from chicken-on-a-stick to barbecue.
"Oh, we never miss it," enthused festival fan Freida Jackson of Columbus. "There's always a wonderful selection of really beautiful, hand-crafted things to see and buy. We always come back loaded with Christmas presents -- and, of course, a little something for ourselves. And, my gosh, the food!"
As an added attraction, West Point's downtown cityscape has been transformed into an open-air museum. Seventeen massive reproductions of notable paintings hang from various buildings, courtesy of businessman Milton Sundbeck.
"He purchased the copyright privilege to be able to enlarge the fine art that is displayed," Wilson explained. "To have something like that adorning the walls of our downtown is a great addition."
Music and more
Three stages will offer free live music all day Saturday. Organizers noted the addition of jazz artists this year, including Sherry Roberson of Las Vegas and Charles "CC" Carter from the Jackson area. Country singer Faith Jackson headlines on the Main Stage at 3 p.m. The Georgia native has opened for the Grammy-winning Rodney Crowell, Confederate Railroad and Sonny Landreth.
For the convenience of festival-goers, a shuttle will run every half hour from the Mossy Oak outlet on Highway 45 Alternate to downtown, starting at 9 a.m., Wilson said. Mossy Oak's Street Rod and Antique Car Show will give shuttle passengers plenty to admire while waiting for their ride.
"We hope people will come to the Howlin' Wolf Blues Festival Friday night, spend the night and enjoy the festival the next day," remarked Wilson. "It's really a great weekend of fun."
Prairie Arts sponsors include Blue Cross Blue Shield, Galloway-Chandler-McKinney, State Farm Insurance Agents Jamey Ballard and Kevin Flurry, NMMC-West Point, Southern Ionics, H&O Truck and Trailer, BancorpSouth, BankFirst Financial Services, Cadence Bank, Anytime Fitness, Anthony's Good Food Market, Pryor & Morrow, Mitchell Automotive, Mossy Oak, Black Prairie Tractor and Creative Cosmetology.
Don't forget the blues
Music at the Howlin' Wolf Festival Friday, Aug. 30 begins at 6:45 p.m. at the Mary Holmes College Auditorium. Tickets are $15 in advance and $20 at the door. For more information, go to wpnet.org/Howlin_Festival. htm, or contact Richard Ramsey at 662-605-0770. The Howlin' Wolf Museum at 307 Westbrook St. will be open Friday from 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.
A new mural on Main Street honoring the blues legend born in West Point will be on view this weekend.
For more information about the Prairie Arts Festival, visit wpnet.org/wp_paf.htm or follow them on Facebook.
Prairie Arts music
Saturday, Aug. 31
(in front of Bryan Library)
9-10:30 a.m. - Kevin Waide Project
11 a.m.-12:30 p.m. - Chad Peavy Band
1 p.m.-2:30 p.m. - Old Memphis Kings
3 p.m.-4:30 p.m. - Faith Jackson
(Sally Kate Winters Park)
9-9:45 a.m. - Sherry Roberson
10 a.m.-12 p.m. - Charles Carter
12:30-2 p.m. - Davo
2:30-4 p.m. - Mike Cooper
(At Court and Broad Streets)
9-9:45 a.m. - Interference
10-10:45 a.m. - Brandy Pennington
11 a.m.-12:30 p.m. - Kay Bain
1-1:45 p.m. - Trailsmen Quartet
2-2:45 p.m. - Anointed Harmony
3-3:45 p.m. - Anointed Voices Of Faith
Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.