Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Kentuck Festival showcases more than 250 artists


The potters, blacksmiths and basket makers of Northport’s Kentuck Festival of the Arts are back for another year of sharing their art with the Tuscaloosa-Northport community.

From 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. this Saturday and Sunday, more than 250 artists will be set up in Kentuck Park near downtown Northport as part of the festival’s 39th year running.

Named one of the top ten art fairs and festivals in the country by American Style magazine, Kentuck is only able to accept one-quarter to one-third of the artists who apply for the festival each year, Executive Director Jan Pruitt said.

“All of our artists are either invited or selected by a jury of artists,” she said. “We are still in the fortunate position of receiving too many applications than we have spaces for.”

But the festival’s prominence doesn’t end with the artists. Visitors have the unique opportunity to see not just finished art but also art as works-in-progress. Artists will demonstrate iron-pouring, forge work, pottery-making and more throughout the weekend.

Steve Davis, a metal artist and owner of Sunheart Metal Works, will be working the coal forge. Davis has been a blacksmith for more than 40 years and has been with Kentuck for more than 20 years. Primarily self-taught, the Columbus, Ohio, native has made everything from gates, handrails, and garden hardware to chandeliers, large sculptures, stainless steel doors and the basket hangers and trash containers of downtown Northport.

“I wanted to pick out the hardest thing that I could ever do,” he said. “I wasn’t raised in a workshop environment, and there were very few people doing blacksmithing when I began. I gathered tools and began learning and teaching myself. I have a 50 percent idea when I start something about where it’s going to end up. I just see what happens with the other 50 percent.”

Davis began showing his work at Kentuck after first coming to the Kentuck Festival as a bystander.

“That first time, I came both days,” he said. “I thought it was the most fabulous thing I had ever seen. There are all kinds of people and so many unusual booths and different styles of art. It’s an incredible thing to see.”

Like Davis, Kerry Kennedy will be demonstrating and selling her work. She will be demonstrating pottery techniques. Unlike Davis, Kennedy grew up in Tuscaloosa and has been coming to the festival her whole life.

“I consider myself a native,” she said.

Kennedy has always been either a bystander or a volunteer with Kentuck until now, and she is excited about her first year as an invited artist at the festival.

“It’s like a homecoming for me,” she said. “I’ve only missed one or two festivals in my lifetime, and because of that I’ve come to know many of the artists. It’s amazing to be a part of something that I came to as a young kid. It’s a source of inspiration for me.”

Kennedy first began making pottery as a student at the University, where she took several art classes and came within just a few credits of getting an art degree, she said. Since then, she has opened her own gallery called Firehorse Pottery in Northport.

“I took ceramics and fell in love with it,” she said. “And the good thing is, with pottery, you make your own way. You figure it out for yourself.”

Kennedy said she was drawn to pottery because of its flexibility and functionality.

“Pottery is endless in variation,” she said. “It can be sculpture, or it can be flat like a painting. I also love to make pots that function well. I love hearing people say, ‘Hey, I use your mug every day.’ I get that a lot.”

Despite the fact that Kennedy has been coming to the Kentuck Festival for years, she said that it still takes her “months to digest everything” that’s there.

“It’s such a creative explosion,” she said.

Pruitt, who has been the Executive Director since January, said, “To me, even if you don’t buy a single thing, it’s just interesting to come and look at the different kinds of art. You can meet the artists and talk to them, and it’s fun to do with friends and by yourself. And the weather looks really nice this year.”

Weekend passes for the festival are $15 and can only be bought in advance, through Friday. Otherwise, tickets cost $10 per day and can be bought at the gate or online from the Kentuck website. For more information, visit

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