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

Druid City Arts Festival brings free entertainment this weekend


“We take our lawn chairs and just have a good time working in cooperation with each other,” Wheeler said.

Wheeler has been a part of the Kentuck Clay Co-op for four and a half years and heard about the Druid City Arts Festival from other members who participated in the past. This Saturday she’ll be one of 16 co-op members with works for sale, including bowls, plates, platters and small, handmade clay angels.

“We buy our clay in 25 pound slabs and start from scratch,” Wheeler said. “I love the feel of it. It might be because I enjoyed making mud pies as a child, but I still like the feel of working in clay.”

The festival was started eight years ago by members of Creative Campus and was taken over by the Tuscaloosa Tourism and Sports Commission four years ago. There are over a dozen categories of art represented including painting, digital work, sculpture, musical instruments, jewelry and glass, according to the department’s marketing director Brandt LaPish.

“I think it’s really important for people to engage in the arts as a whole to continue to strive to innovate, to be challenged, to be driven towards creativity as humans,” LaPish said. “I think it’s important to engage in our local artists and regional artists because they are that source. They’re our neighbors, they’re the ones who are fighting that battle every day in our community, and providing that challenge, and providing that inspiration everyday.”

Over the years, the festival has expanded to include regional artists from outside Tuscaloosa, LaPish said. Last year was also the first year the city set up an entertainment district for the event, meaning if attendants buy alcohol at the festival or a local restaurant and keep it in a appropriate cup, they can carry it with them off festival grounds and into downtown or vice versa. This was implemented so that the festival didn’t need to be barricaded, and to allow people to come and go more freely from Government Plaza, LaPish said.

Other festival additions like local food trucks, local music and a musical petting zoo will also be on site.

“It really brings the community together,” LaPish said. “There’s just an atmosphere of joy and celebration. It’s very festive, you have music. You have little kids playing, you have people enjoying art, you’ve got people having a Steel City popsicle. Everybody’s enjoying spring. It’s just that kind of joyous time.”

Laura Clark, a local jam and jelly maker and the owner of SweetHomeChicago, will be at the festival for the second time this year with her confections. Clark has been a maker at the Maker’s Market downtown since it opened and applied for the Druid City Arts Festival last year after hearing about from other small business owners.

“I think if I had a favorite memory from last year, it was just all the different people that I met — vendors and shoppers,” Clark said. “The atmosphere was so nice. It’s just nice to be able to go to a show and not worry about people acting crazy and being around just rude and obnoxious people, and this event is totally not like that.”

Clark also said she was impressed with how well the Tuscaloosa Tourism and Sports Commission helped promote local business through the event.

“We’re a community-oriented people,” she said. “We want to see our community grow. We want this community to be the best that it can be. A lot of people I know that are small businesses, including myself, are volunteers and different organizations in the community, and I think you get more of that personalized attention when you’re in a local setting, and that’s what keeps our market going.”

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