Paint the Town street fair to be held in Lafollette

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By Charlotte Underwood

The LaFollette Recreation Department and the Campbell Culture Coalition (CCC) are inviting the public to come paint the town-literally.

On Sept. 26, a Paint the Town street festival will be held in LaFollette.

The one -day street festival will include music, food vendors and story telling, but the main attraction will be the vivid and colorful street paintings, according to CCC President Jo Anne Myers.

This first festival will hopefully become a model for the city to build on in the years to come, Myers said.

Manuel Mesa was one of the original founders of a similar street fair and project in Florida, which now attracts in excess of 100,000 visitors.

Mesa has contacted street painting artists from several states who plan to create large chalk art scenes on Tennessee Avenue, LaFollette’s oldest street. In tribute to this, images of Tennessee’s heritage and culture will serve as an inspirational theme for many of the artists.

Local artist John Lemaire designed the campaign’s mascot, Catfish LaFollette. The catfish will be used to advertise a variety of projects designed to reinvigorate the downtown area, according to Myers.

Local groups and artists who wish to try their hand at painting the town are encouraged to pre-register. They are also asked to attend a brief tips for success workshop prior to the event.

“Anyone and everyone is encouraged to sign up and test their art skills,” Mesa said.

A secure walking trail will be created along Tennessee Avenue between Central Avenue and Beech Street, according to LaFollette Recreational Director Johnny Byrge.

“The downtown area needs attention; we hope for this to generate more interest downtown and help the businesses,” Byrge said.

This particular outreach project appealed to the CCC and other organizers because of the growth potential.

“It gives us something positive that we can grow in the future,” Myers said.

Through cooperation and efforts by the CCC, the LaFollette Recreation Department, the Campbell County Historical Society and the Campbell County Artists Association, festival organizers hope to highlight the positive images of the city.

“We want to help bring the businesses back to the downtown area and build on the positive things that are already there,” Myers said.

During the festival, there will be a points of interest tour sponsored by the historical society highlighting historical areas such as the LaFollette House and the old post office.

The CC Artist Association plans to recreate quilt blocks from the Appalachian Quilt Trail in chalk art on the sidewalks. The public may participate in coloring in blocks if they wish, according to art association President Karen Cumorich.

There will also be a children’s gallery so the kids can try their hand at chalk art as well, according to Myers.

“There will be something for everyone, but especially for the children. Even young children will have a specially designated area to chalk away on the sidewalk,” Myers said. Chalk will be provided, according to Myers.

“This gives the children an opportunity to participate in a positive activity for the day,” Myers said.

Artists and crafters who would like to set up on the street to sell or display their work are encouraged to pre-register by visiting www.CampbellCultureCoalition.org. There is no admission fee to this festival and no vendor fees either. All public activities and vendor booths will be open from 10 a,m., to 4 p.m. Artists wishing to participate must pre-register and have art or description of art pre-approved before painting at the festival, according to Myers.

For more information, contact the CCC at CCCHighlanders@aol.com or call Myers at 566-3641.