September 26 – STARKVILLE – It’s finally back.
The Cotton District Arts Festival, which rained in 2019 and canceled by COVID in 2020, will once again take to the streets of downtown Starkville on Saturday, October 2 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The festival, which has lasted for over 22 years, is usually held on Super Bulldog weekend in the spring.
“The numbers weren’t where we wanted in the spring, when it comes to COVID, so we moved them to the fall of this year when we thought the numbers might be lower,” Emily Corban Camp said. , president of the festival. “This is the first time that it has not been associated with sporting events in the state of Mississippi. We hope the cooler weather in the fall attracts people.”
The festival will feature 145 arts and crafts vendors, the Taste of Starkville restaurant showcase, an animal parade and live music.
In the Craft Village, vendors will offer paintings, sculptures, ceramics, jewelry, graphics and traditional crafts including woodworking, candle making, textiles, canvas items, birdhouses, leather goods, bath and body products, stained glass windows and clothing.
“They will be set up in tents all along University Drive, Maxwell Street and Page Avenue,” said Juliette Reid, administrator of the festival, which is presented by the Starkville Area Arts Council, where she is employed by AmeriCorps VISTA. “We are clearing the booths for COVID precautions this year. We are asking vendors to wear masks, and we encourage, but do not require, festival goers to wear masks.”
Camp said it was important that the festival come back this year and not put it off until later.
“We didn’t want another year to go by without any support for these food artists and artisans,” she said. “So many artists depend on festivals for their income. We are delighted to give them the opportunity to start over.”
Other villages include the Potters’ Village, where there will be live pottery demonstrations; the International Village, with music, dance and cultural demonstrations; the Writers’ Village, with writing activities for children, a poetry competition and authors talking about their works; and the children’s village of junior auxiliaries, offering manual and educational activities for children.
The pet parade begins at 9 a.m. and live music will be presented throughout the day on three stages.
Two artists who will be presenting their work again at the festival are Bonnie Brumley from Starkville and Joe MacGown from the Sessums community.
Brumley, who was born in Laurel, moved to Starkville in 2010 to study at MSU, where she earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts with a specialization in ceramics. After a brief stint in Jackson, she returned to Starkville in 2016.
She and her husband, Blair Edwards, live in the Cotton District, where she has an art studio at the back of their house.
“When I returned to Starkville I didn’t have an oven yet, so I was carrying my things around campus to be fired,” she said. “I am finally self-sufficient now with my own oven and have been for a few years.”
Brumley, 29, specializes in what she calls functional pottery: serving pieces, bowls, mugs, vases and jewelry.
“I really like finding different textures to incorporate into my work,” she said. “I like the simplicity in terms of functional work.”
This will be Brumley’s third year to show his pottery at the Cotton District Arts Festival.
“I really like the opportunity to meet a lot of people in one day,” she said. “I also love the chance to walk around and see other artists. It’s a great way to connect with the community and see new faces.”
Brumley has an online store where she sells her ceramics, but she said the pieces sell best in person.
“At a festival, you have the chance to explain your art to people,” she said. “They can also see the process of making a pot, the work that goes into it.”
Brumley said she drew a lot of inspiration from nature during the pandemic.
“I’m going to go out into the yard and pick some weeds or some flowers – whatever has a good amount of detail,” she said. “You can get a lot of detail with clay. It’s very responsive.”
In about a month, Brumley and her husband will be opening a cafe called The People’s Cup, and she’ll put her work there for sale.
“Take something that you use every day, like your favorite cup of coffee,” she said. “It is heartwarming to have an item that you really love to make part of your day more special. These rituals are important.”
Joe MacGown, who has a studio on his property in Sessums, draws his inspiration from people, politics, nature and religion.
“I’m really into religion, although not necessarily religious,” MacGown said. “I just like the way people believe in random things.”
At the Cotton District Arts Festival, MacGown will share a booth with his son, Joseph, who is also an artist, as well as a writer and musician.
Elder MacGown describes his art as chaotic assemblages of bizarre mutant creatures, crowded surreal landscapes, and mandala-like patterns.
“The MacGown side of my family is very creative,” he said. “I’ve been drawing and painting since I was 4. I would go out and paint landscapes, flowers, but I also loved doing weird stuff. I could visualize.”
MacGown, 57, doesn’t need much sleep – usually three or four hours a night – so he had plenty of time to be productive with his art, even though he worked as an entomological researcher at MSU until ‘retired last year.
“The field of entomology was good for me because it’s all about observation,” said MacGown, who has presented his art in more than 80 international exhibitions.
Many of MacGown’s detailed drawings and mixed media paintings feature some of the insects he has studied, such as ants, beetles, and butterflies.
His son, Joseph, specializes in ceramics.
“My son and I have a fun dynamic at art festivals,” he said. “He’s even more abstract than me. We like to spread the weirdness. Our art is quite different from what you see in this region.”
At the MacGowns booth, they’ll have a handful of original pieces, as well as woodblock prints, canvas prints, multimedia prints, pen drawings, acrylics, metal prints, ceramics and even prints. of postcards.
“We try to have something for all budgets,” MacGown said. “The best part for me is the connections we make. We might not make a lot of money, but one connection we create will lead to something else. Festivals open up opportunities for other work.”