The 44th annual Kentuck Festival of the Arts had gathered 270 artists— and even more festival-goers. The festival takes place in Northport, Alabama on the third Saturday in October.
It was around 8:25 AM when we arrived at the festival. After paying the ten dollars at the entrance – simple metal gates, flanked by a white pavilion where tickets were sold – our group split up. I paired with Rebekah, a sweet, chatty girl with an interest in science.
Because the festival had not yet started, Rebekah and I decided to just walk around before the crowds got there. We walked to our left first. Pale blue banners emblazoned with the letter K hung above us, and we asked one friendly artist what they meant. The festival, as it turns out, was split into sections, with the artists scattered amongst them, with no rhyme or reason that was apparent to us.
I spotted the tent of the first artist I had chosen to interview, Debra Farley, and suddenly got very nervous. I told Rebekah we should interview her artists first, but she seemed a bit worried too, so we turned and headed back toward the entrance, continuing to other side of the festival. The pathway was narrow, the tents taller than me—no, towering over me. We found an artist who Rebekah had chosen, and we headed over. As she interviewed him, I receded into my mind. When Rebekah brushed by me, I broke out and followed her.
As we walk, I was amazed though slightly disturbed by the art that I saw. One artist had constructed animals out of wool. Another sold his art out of a large teepee with a jawbone chandelier. Yet another artist sold gigantic flower sculptures. (The people were interesting, to say the least.) I was happy to see that some artists wouldn’t let physical disabilities get in their way; at least two artists were in wheelchairs.
Finally, we reached the tent of an artist I had chosen to interview: Cindy Miller, a jewelry maker with a degree in Anthropology. I could see this field of study reflected in her artwork. Her works were neatly displayed on counters, and pictures of more were hanging on the back wall. I took out a pen and began to ask her some questions.
“How did you get into art?”
“I was born into a family of artists,” Miller told me.
I also asked, “What do you like about Kentuck?”
This was her first year, but “so far, I like the level of the other artists.”
Rebekah and I thanked her and left, then we chose to do a few of the children’s crafts. I tried a violin that was perfectly tuned, without a speck of dust on it, while Rebekah chose to watch. Then we went and made cotton paper. Mine was rather thick, I’m afraid. We also tie-dyed bandanas. The crafts calmed me down, and now I was ready to interview Debra Farley.
Farley is the owner of a boutique called The Charming Cherub. She got into jewelry making in college, when she wanted boutique-style jewelry but couldn’t get any. She started making her own, then her jewelry started getting popular with other people.
Despite the initial anxiety, the festival was a good experience!