Canton Festival of the Arts

When it comes to the annual Canton Festival of the Arts, it’s not a matter of if you’re going to attend, it’s how long are you going to stay.

By Michael J. Pallerino // Photography by Erin Gray Cantrell

There’s so much to see and do, that it hardly feels like two days is enough to block off your calendar. The Artist’s Market. The Serenity Gardens. The Interactive Children’s Experience. Live entertainment. And don’t forget about that alluring food and wine, and craft beer garden.

Add to it that all of this takes place in Canton’s newly revitalized historic downtown district, and you just might have 2016’s biggest party.

Local artist Elly Hobgood, who has participated in the festival the past 12 years, says that the time and attention the city gives to its artists is evident at every turn.

“Although I’ve done festivals across the Southeast for a dozen years or so, our local event is my favorite,” she said. “Much thought and planning are evident in the variety and quality of the art, but there’s also a unique investment in hospitality for the artists. Canton greets us as honored guests, feeding and caring for us in every way.”

The festival, one of the major fundraisers for the Cherokee County Arts Center, is one of the only Juried Fine Arts Festivals in the region.

“The Cherokee Arts Council and their volunteers, along with the City of Canton, clearly understand the value of art in the quality of life for our community,” Hobgood said. “The event is more of an arts event. It says ‘art is important here.’ The size and organization of the festival attracts a crowd that are truly interested in the arts.”

Along with its annual array of family-oriented activities, new this year will be a Literary Celebration featuring more than 25 authors from around the country, many of which specialize in children’s literature. In addition, the Gallery at the Cherokee Arts Center will be showing off its extensive renovations with a grand reopening during the Festival.

The festival also is honoring the memory of local businessman Jack Fincher, who passed away this past September. To pay tribute to Fincher’s community activism and love for education, festival organizers are unveiling the “The Jack Fincher Rising Artists Market.” which will feature local teen artists considering a career in art.

“The festival offers something for everyone,” says Jeff Brown, co-chair of the event. “Children can participate in hands on painting, sand art and other crafts free of charge. Adults can enjoy a craft beverage, while perusing the Artist Market, Literary Festival or Serenity Gardens. And families can enjoy lunch from the food court while listening to entertainment on the Main Stage. The festival directly impacts art education in our community and helps provide education and art awareness throughout Cherokee County.”

The festival is May 21 & 22, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. // http://cherokeearts.org/festival/

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