With COVID still a concern, we were not sure how we could possibly bring the glittery, messy fun that is ClydeFEST to this community. But the solace and hope that comes with kids making art outside together felt more important than ever, and a whole lot of generous people came together to make it happen! This year’s ClydeFEST transformed into five events in the WILD, over two weeks, and we can’t stop smiling about all the fun we had.
With the support of The Jester Group at Baird, we created roving performances that weaved through the streets of four different neighborhoods, summoning all those around to come out and join us! West African musician and Artists-in-Schools teaching artist Diali Cissokho; his nephew, Diabel; Takiri Folclor Latino dancers; and Geoffrey the Bubble Guy brought the characteristic loving spirit of ClydeFEST to communities throughout Chatham. Groups of children and parents gathered around our trucks and trailers, smiling, laughing, and playing with Geoffrey’s enormous bubbles while watching with amazement as the women of Takiri Folclor danced, swirling their colorful skirts around. Beautiful music filled the air, bringing some to tears. “I think I might cry,” exclaimed one 10-year-old girl. “I’ve never seen a live band before. This is the best day ever!”
We knew that not everyone would be able to make it to our critter painting events, so we asked the good folks at the Chatham County Partnership for Children for some help. They were kind enough to allow us to set up a booth at their drive-through Day of the Book/Dia de los Libros celebration, where we handed out Critter Kits for families to enjoy at home.
Critter Painting Events
For those who’ve attended ClydeFEST in the past, you know that Critterville is a key attraction. This year, Critterville looked a bit different, but it had all the glittery pizazz of previous years. On May 2, we set up shop at two locations: the Park at Briar Chapel and Southwest District Park, where we offered critter cut-outs in multiple shapes and sizes for children to adorn. Like magic, plain wood transformed into brightly colored sparkly cats, snakes, fireflies, ducks, turtles, and butterflies. These young artists had a blast painting and gluing while enjoying big bubbles, balloon animals, and the familiar ClydeFEST performers that we all know and love. Many parents remarked on how grateful they were to find something unique and creative, but also COVID-safe for their kids to do. It was a day of celebrating the arts, and honoring our very own folk artist hero, Clyde Jones.
Generous Volunteers and Sponsors
This event would have been nothing more than an ambitious idea, had it not been for the amazing volunteers and sponsors who made it happen! THANK YOU THANK YOU to the high school students and community members who helped us set up, fill paint cups, and disinfect critter painting stations to help us keep this event safe for all who attended.
We’re grateful to all of the community sponsors who stepped up to support this unique event, putting faith in the Chatham Arts Council while helping us find a way to safely bring ClydeFEST to Chatham this year. Thank you!
We hope to see everyone next year for some more outdoor art-making critter-style! But until then, thank you for coming on this journey with us. It was W I L D!