The lawn of South Jackson Civic Center was alive with art over the weekend for the newly-revived Arts Alive festival.

The second year of its resurgence has seen an even more successful event, with more than 1,300 people stopping by to peruse and perhaps purchase some art, according to event coordinators.

Tullahoma’s annual art festival saw more than 40 vendors set up shop and sell their jewelry, paintings, stained glass pieces, wood carvings and more this past weekend.

 “It’s an improvement from last year,” said Tullahoma Art Center president Beth Thames.

Thames credited the more streamlined event process on the wealth of volunteers the group had this year.

“We’ve had about double the amount of volunteers this year, so it’s running a lot more smoothly,” she said.

Thames also said this year’s judging ran much more smoothly, with all the artists delivering the pieces they wanted to be judged in one location inside the civic center.

“It’s a lot more accessible for the judges,” she explained. “Because we’ve moved everything inside, they don’t have to walk from booth to booth, so that was a big improvement.”

This year’s success was only a stepping stone, Thames said, as “it’s definitely getting better and better.”

“It’s just going to be even better next year,” she added. “At this point it’s just keeping the machine well-oiled.”

Things weren’t just improved from a coordinator standpoint, either, according to Thames. She said she’d received glowing reviews from several of the artists about the event.

“They all say they love this festival, and they’re going to prioritize this one,” she said. “That’s really great. It’s good to hear the positive feedback from the artists, especially, because that’s why we’re here.”

Thames said she’d received compliments and rave reviews about the overall environment of the festival, the people who had stopped by to see each item for sale and the sales themselves.

“Their sales have been good,” Thames said on Sunday. “A lot of them have told me that many times they make more $10 sales, but at this particular event they’ve made more high-dollar sales.

 “People know that they’re coming to buy quality art – this is the best of the best,” Thames said.


Juried art

Not only is the festival a celebration of all things art, it is also a juried festival. Expert judges were brought in to determine which artist had produced the best quality pieces in several media.

Awards were presented on Saturday evening in several categories, including painting, fiber art, woodworking, jewelry, glass and sculpture.

The winners in each category were as follows:

  • Photography – Howard Thompson, Tullahoma
  • Jewelry – Susan Voiers, Athens, Alabama
  • Painting – Leah Boorse, Shelbyville
  • Wood – Buzz Bussler, Fayetteville
  • Glass – Don Myhan, Nashville
  • Fiber – Pat Rollie, Tullahoma
  • Sculpture – Ron van Dyke, Altamont
  • Best in Show – Jim Everett, Morrison


Food truck freshness

Something else available at the festival this weekend was the catering debut of the Tullahoma City Schools Nutrition Department’s S3 food truck – the Starvation Salvation Station.

 “It’s going great,” said Jennifer Myers with the nutrition department. “We’re not only being able to sell food, we’re being able to relate the truck and what we’re doing and getting it out in the community to tell the story about it.”

The truck was a new purchase for the nutrition department based on the success of last summer’s feeding program.

The truck is completely customized to fit the needs of the nutrition department, from a grill to warmer stations and even air conditioning inside.

Erin McCullough may be reached at