Festival draws steady crowds throughout day

Published 12:04 am Sunday, May 23, 2010

NATCHEZ — After a year-and-a-half hiatus, Art and Soul was back Saturday.

The festival — formerly in the fall — was moved from the downtown streets to Memorial Park, but the new time and location didn’t seem to keep people away.

“Whenever I mentioned Art and Soul, people would say, ‘I love it, and I am glad it’s back,’” said Yvonne Murray, a board member for the Natchez Downtown Development Association, the group that organizes the event.

Throughout the day, a steady stream of people made their way through the park, listening to live music and looking at the work of the artist vendors, who ranged from potters and painters to bead workers and photographers.

Moving the venue to the park was a nice decision because it was a shady area, helping mitigate some of Saturday’s heat, Natchez Downtown President Janelle Williams said.

The goal of the festival is to bring the community together to support local artists.

And Mary Baugh, the artist in residence at Natchez Clay — who moved to Natchez during the festival’s hiatus — said she felt it had achieved exactly that.

“(Art and Soul) is nice for some of our up-and-comers at the studio to get their stuff out there,” she said.

For first-time festival participant Teri Roddy, the community support translated in the sale of lots of items, both large and small.

“There were a lot of people who started showing up before we were supposed to open, and they have continued that throughout the day,” she said.

The revived festival had 21 vendors this year, but Murray said many of the featured artists gave organizers the contact information for other artists to bring in next year.

The NDDA is a Mississippi Main Street Association Member.