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By Steven Nalley
It may not have shared a Saturday with Super Bulldog Weekend this year, but vendors, artists, cooks, musicians and organizers at the Cotton District Arts Festival still found success and drew crowds.
Emilie Cravens, co-chair of CDAF, said the turnout was better than expected and she is pleased with it. She said it was difficult to compare this yearâ€™s festival with those adjoined to Super Bulldog Weekend, because so many other aspects of it had also changed.
â€śWe rearranged the festival a little bit this year, so itâ€™s a little bit different,â€ť Cravens said. â€śBeing a holiday weekend, we actually feel like weâ€™re having one of our more successful years, since weâ€™ve had an equal turnout to years where itâ€™s been Super Bulldog Weekend. It might not be as busy, but theyâ€™re still coming in droves and hanging out. I think theyâ€™re spending a little more time here this year.â€ť
Vendors at CDAF corroborated the idea that this yearâ€™s CDAF attendees might have come in smaller numbers but stayed longer. For instance, Shlynn Morris, co-owner of Morrisâ€™s Barbecue and Steak House, said she had several repeat customers come by her tent. However, she said that could be because of their tentâ€™s new location.
â€śI would think in comparison to last year, weâ€™ve had the same amount of customers come by,â€ť Morris said, â€śand I think weâ€™re in a better location, because weâ€™re here at the beginning, versus being up a little bit farther.â€ť
New additions to CDAF also succeeded, including the Writerâ€™s Villageâ€™s new Authorâ€™s Tent. Its organizer, Lois Connington, said authors there had found success both selling and reading their works.
â€śWeâ€™ve had a couple of guest authors who werenâ€™t actually selling their books. Becky Hagenston came in, and Reggie Kelly from the Cincinnati Bengals joined us and read from his book too, so that was very exciting.â€ť
Patrick Tranum, sculptor and artist at Pipe Dreams Studio, said Saturday had also been kind to him. Pipe Dreams transforms pipes, gears, wheels, and other mechanical pieces into abstract sculptures of animals, people and other uncommon shapes.
â€śEven though it hasnâ€™t been on Super Bulldog Weekend like it had been the past few years, the crowd is not that much less,â€ť Tranum said. â€śThey look like a more serious crowd, anyway. I mean, itâ€™s been a good show, Iâ€™ve had a good time this time, as always. Iâ€™m from Starkville originally, so I get to meet friends Iâ€™ve seen recently and some I havenâ€™t seen in a long time.â€ť
One of the guests at the festival, Paisley Hamilton, said she enjoyed the wide variety of artists and vendors at CDAF.
â€śI definitely like K. Raye Pottery, and I think there was a Bohemian stand I really enjoyed too. They had some really neat hair wraps. The pottery and the musicâ€™s great too,â€ť Hamilton said.
James Sobaskie, assistant professor at MSUâ€™s music department, organized CDAFâ€™s first Songwriterâ€™s Competition, and he said it wouldnâ€™t be their last. With 30 submissions to this yearâ€™s competition, he said, it wouldnâ€™t surprise him to see 50 entrants next year, because it attracts young people trying to start musical careers.
â€śItâ€™s the kind of thing that gets them noticed and encouraged,â€ť Sobaskie said. â€śWhen we teach composition for my classes, just getting applause from your peers is kind of addictive. Thatâ€™s really where good art comes from.â€ť
Jordyn Mallory, winner of the songwriterâ€™s competition, said she could attest to that. She liked her audience at CDAF, she said.
â€śYou look out into the crowd, and there are different venues for different things, and in the middle of it, itâ€™s all people,â€ť Mallory said. â€śEven though theyâ€™re from a very far distance, theyâ€™re all watching and paying attention.â€ť