Destination: ArtWay

Arts and crafts festival in downtown Maryville keeps improving

For a large number of Foothills Fall Festival guests who will pour into town this weekend, the entertainment going on down in Greenbelt Park is a side trip. Their destination is ArtWay, the arts and crafts festival that takes place in downtown Maryville.

“ArtWay has developed a quality reputation among artist and craftspeople from around the country. We get new people every year. About 30 to 40 percent of artists and craftspeople are new,” said Jane Groff, City of Maryville special events coordinator.

Groff said there are 90 vendors this year. “We’ve got some interesting ones we’re excited about this year. There is an artist who does outdoor sculptured items and really neat pieces of scope and large size,” she said. “We’ve got lot of neat artists who do traditional mediums but with interesting applications that people will be excited about for gifts and home décor.”

For years ArtWay organizers worked to balance serving vendors and their tents with the needs of downtown business owners who complained the tents blocked folks from their storefronts.

This year Groff said the tents will start at the sidewalk just past the Broadway Towers and as folks approach the Capitol Theater, the vendors move to the center lane of the street all the way through Downtown wherever there are three lanes available. The large parking lot across from Sullivan’s will still be filled with vendors as well.

“There won’t be any tents in the parking lot behind Founder’s Square like last year,” said Groff. “They felt the festival atmosphere was lost by moving the tents out of the street. We felt this was a good compromise. When it is an area where there are three lanes on the road, the tents are up and down the street again. It keeps the energy going and gives total access to any business on Broadway.”

An old friend will get some attention at ArtWay this year as well, as organizers continue with the free music portion of the venue. The front of Roy’s Record Shop has been the venue for music groups to entertain at ArtWay for the past few years. This year, the music will move across the street to the grassy area near Tomato Head, where a covered stage will be set up and a smorgasbord of entertainment planned.

But Roy’s Record Shop, now closed, will still be featured.

Longtime fans of music in the area know the influence of Roy and Alma Garrett on music and musicians in Blount County. A story board will be put up near the shop that tells the story of Roy and Alma, how they started the shop and how they supported musicians in the region.

“Edward Harper did an interview with Roy Garrett and Alma and got neat background on how music came to be at Roy’s Record Shop,” Groff said.

And the new stage? It will be named the Music at Roy’s and dedicated in the Garrett’s honor.

“The musicians will be on a stage now, and not just on their front porch. It will be a covered stage with 14 different musicians playing throughout the weekend,” Groff said. “A lot of the acts regularly play on the WDVX Blue Plate Special show, so they’re good quality musicians.”

There will be more than just music on the stage as well. Representatives of the Smoky Mountain Highland Games will also put on demonstrations during the festival and the Knoxville Pipes and Drums will play on Saturday as excitement builds in Maryville for the Highland Games move to Maryville College in 2011.

The Foothills Antique Tractor and Engine Club will do a parade down Broadway on Saturday and Sunday mornings. And some of the businesses along Broadway are planning special entertainment as well. “The Palace is doing a concert,” said Groff. “The Capitol Theater always has something interesting. Over time, we’ve had people bring suggestions as to what would make ArtWay better, and we are starting to get an idea of how ArtWay will look as we bring more cultural items that fit and belong with the culture of the downtown businesses.”

Interactive craft demonstrations will be set up at Founder’s Square, in front of the old post office and in the plaza between Preservation Plaza and Two Doors Down.

“They are all interactive so kids can make their own items,” said Groff. “We’ll have straw weaving, quilting and knitting.”

Groff said the ArtWay organizers work to maintain the quality of the event by not only making it a juried show, but by being careful about the number of vendors chosen in each area.

“Over the past few years we have gotten to the point where we are looking at quality and the number we have in each category. For example, if someone is a knitter, we wouldn’t take five or six knitters. There’s only so much of a market for knitted products,” she said. “The market for jewelry is bigger, for example, so there are usually more who do jewelry, but the styles are different. We know we can take a few more (jewelry booths), but we still have a maximum per category so each vendor can have a good show.”

Groff said organizers also ask which vendors offer the most interesting or new products.

“If there is someone who has been here every year, we may ask what new things have this year. We don’t look at it in regards to how many vendors are local, but what is new and interesting and what are people going to want to buy,” she said.

Groff said volunteer jury members pick the vendors. “There are several people who have been with us every year since the festival started. We have a jury of different people who are all volunteers. Several of them are artists and craftsmen themselves, and they do shows and know what works,” she said.

Groff said a tough economy can affect any business but that customers who come to ArtWay recognize the quality of the products. “Our vendors have a great price point, they know their customers and try to bring their work at the most reasonable prices,” she said. “I think the price points are great for what they bring.”

There will be a different kind of “green” at ArtWay this year, in addition to the green commerce vendors are hoping for. Thanks to Denso Manufacturing and the leadership of Bob Booker and Robyn Blair, the push toward lessening the impact on our landfills is continuing.

“For the past two years, we have lowered our landfill waste by 4 tons. Even the vendors have been helping us recycle -- giving us all the cardboard and steel containers and all the used oil onsite at all three areas,” Groff said. “This year, Alcoa, Inc., has gotten involved as well and we have decided to make it an all-aluminum event - all sodas and water will be sold in aluminum.”

In addition, Denso and Alcoa, Inc., have established permanent recycling containers for guest and vendors to use during the festival. “We anticipate at least another 2 tons of trash eliminated or diverted from the landfill. They have also established permanent recycling containers on the Greenbelt. We bought 10 of those with a grant from the Alcoa Foundation and those go throughout the Greenbelt Park event area,” she said.

Groff said Booker and Blair have been dedicated to this for a couple of years and always set a good example.

“The cool thing to me is, in the last two years, you will see Robyn and Bob out there picking up bottles and cans. They are not just talking about it, but actually making it happen,” Groff said. “Without their support, it wouldn’t have happened. Pulling Alcoa into this equation and getting their help as well should put our recycling program through the roof!”

Groff said the City of Maryville is appreciative for what these responsible companies do. “The key to all this is the guests. Will people take their cans and put them in the proper containers? Over the last two years, we have shown that if the containers are available, people will use them. We have to make sure they see where the containers are and understand the importance of what we’re trying to do.”

Groff said ArtWay 2010 is in a transition year since longtime ArtWay committee chair Caroline Forster stepped down following the 2009 festival.

“Caroline had been involved with the festival the whole 10 years and in charge of ArtWay for eight of those 10 years. She just felt there were so many things going on that she needed to relinquish that duty.”

Groff has stepped in this year and made it part of her duties, but she says this is a transition year and more announcements will be coming after the 2010 ArtWay is finished.

“Everyone has worked together to make ArtWay happen this year,” said Groff. “The whole festival is a product of good people working hard.”

Groff said that after the festival continues to be strong every year because it is a fun event for families and the community. “People can forget about their worries for a while,” she said. “We have a community of people willing to put their time into this event. We’ve got a good thing going. We don’t want to let that go.”

Road closures

A number of streets downtown will close leading up to and during the festival.

The top level of the parking garage on the corner of Broadway Avenue and Cusick street closed at 5 p.m. on Wednesday.

The public parking lot next to the Blount County Courthouse on Lamar Alexander Parkway and Court Circle also closed at 5 p.m. Wednesday.

Thursday closures

On Thursday, Broadway Avenue from Cates Street to College Street closes at 4 p.m.

North Court Street from Harper Avenue to McCammon Avenue closes at 4 p.m.

Cusick Street from Harper Avenue through Court Circle to West Lamar Alexander Parkway will close for the entire weekend beginning at 4 p.m.

McCammon Avenue from Harper Avenue to Cusick Street will close at 5 p.m.

The public parking lot next to the Daily Times on Harper Avenue will be closed at 5 p.m. on Thursday for the remainder of the weekend.

The parking lot at Founder’s Park in between CBBC and Preservation Plaza will close at 5 p.m.

Friday closures

McCammon Avenue from Cusick Street to McGhee Street will close at 11 a.m. on Friday.

The bottom two levels of the parking garage with the entrance on Harper Avenue will remain open to the public. The top two levels will be reserved for vendors with the Festival beginning Friday morning and remaining through the weekend.

The Municipal lot where Church Ave converts to Sevierville Road at Norwood will be closed to the public and will be reserved for venders beginning Friday morning and remain closed through the weekend.

The bottom two levels of the parking lot across from Ruby Tuesday Corporate will be open to the public on Saturday and Sunday.

One lane of Church Street between Cates and Cusick streets will be closed for two hours to accommodate the crowds of people waiting to enter through the Festival gates as the event opens on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Motorists are advised to take an alternate route during those hours and throughout the Festival, if possible, since there will be a heavy traffic in that area.

Parking is available at Foothills Mall with a shuttle service to the festival. Police will be assisting with traffic during the following hours: 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., Friday; 10:30 a.m.- 12:30 p.m., Saturday and 12:30 p.m.-2:30 p.m., Sunday.

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