BY KAREN CAMPBELL
Weakley County Schools Communications Director
MARTIN (April 21) – The Weakley County Schools Arts Festival is coming to the Martin Event Center on April 30 and the countywide celebration of music, visual art, and theater is shaping up to be bigger than ever.
The inaugural Weakley County Schools Art Show began in 2020 at the Weakley County Personal Development Center just prior to schools closing due to the pandemic. In 2021, the Northwest Tennessee Regional Arts Festival made room for the county’s art installation and included some musical numbers by WCS students in an outdoor, COVID-cautious setting.
This year, with support from sponsor Weakley Arts Can, the school system opted to expand and launch its own festival. Art teacher Amber Wharton assumed coordination for the indoor art show and music teacher Pam Sliger has worked with county arts teachers on filling the covered, outdoor performance stage.
Other additions include:
- Pre-K students were invited to participate in the categories of drawing, painting, photography, and 3D/mixed media alongside fellow students in grades K-2. Grade bands of 3rd-5th grade, 6th-8th grade and 9th-12th grade were first judged at the school level and then by a panel of professional artists at the county level. More than 140 pieces will be on display.
- An Upcycled: Guitars as Art option offered individuals and groups to use donated, slightly blemished Yamaha guitars as the “canvas” for creations. Thirty-two entries will be shown using display elements designed by area ag mechanics teachers and crafted by FFA students. Those classes will also be providing metal signage for the art show.
- The City of Martin donated the outdoor staging and exhibit area inside the new Martin Event Center. Benefactors Sandy and Martha Edinger and Discovery Park of America made possible prizes for the winners that now include tickets to the park, as well as trophies and t-shirts from Monograms and More. Thanks, also, to the financial support of donors, winning artists in the upcycled art category will receive art supplies. Weakley Arts Can and the Martin Fortnightly Club are preparing goodies for a “green room” where visual and musical artists can enjoy a few moments of special treatment during the festivities.
Musical and theatrical performances begin at 11 a.m. Saturday. Dresden High School’s pop band and choir, Westview ensembles and a scene from Weakley Playhouse’s upcoming production of Romeo and Juliet will share the spotlight until 1 p.m. when guests will be invited indoors to hear the announcement of art show winners.
Director of Schools Randy Frazier and County Mayor Jake Bynum will announce the winners and distribute prizes. County Mayor Bynum has invited first place winners to continue to show their works at the conclusion of the festival at the Weakley County Courthouse.
To acknowledge the festival’s arrival in Martin, these area businesses are offering discounts – Buff City Soap, Martin’s Coffee & Bakery, and Vantage. Crave will honor the card distributed at the festival on Saturday when they open again on Monday.
“Every year, the celebration of the arts is growing in Weakley County,” said Director Frazier. “We are grateful to the sponsors, donors, businesses, organizations, volunteers, teachers and especially the performers and artists for making a day like April 30th possible. I encourage each community to attend in support of our students.”