As Chatham Park continues to develop its community, they remain dedicated to supporting local art in Chatham County. As part of that commitment, Chatham Park is powering our Go See This series. They join us in inviting you to Go See This . . .
The weather is warming up, flowers are blooming, and people are starting to spend more time enjoying the outdoors, which means that it must be time for . . . ClydeFEST! This year is a special one, as it is now back (in person!) at the Bynum Ball Field for the 20th anniversary of this iconic event that celebrates kids and the joy of making, in honor of local folk artist (AKA “critter artist”) Clyde Jones and his creative and colorful wooden creatures. Gathered with friends celebrating his birthday early this month, Clyde himself looked forward to the 20th anniversary celebrations. “It’ll be good to see all them kids out there again,” he said.
This year’s April 30 ClydeFEST will feature all of the activities that you’ve grown to love – Critterville, games, food trucks, live performances, and a whole pile of opportunities for kids to make art. Ubi the Clown (AKA John Hogan), who has been a part of ClydeFEST for years, is looking forward to being part of the event once again this year. “I like making children of all ages happy,” says John. “Making them a whimsical balloon animal or figure often evinces a smile, and sometimes parents smile, too. ClydeFEST has been a great place to practice my art, and I have come to know many great folks involved with making the event happen.”
To make the magic happen each year requires lots of people generously volunteering their time, such as this year’s Critterville lead, Debbie Bousquet. “I first volunteered in 2003, and it was such an amazing experience,” says Debbie. “Clyde’s joy in interacting with the kids was truly infectious. There’s a special magic in the air when so many people come together to create this wonderful event. To have ClydeFEST return in person this year in celebration of its 20th anniversary will be even more special and magical.”
Having ClydeFEST back as a full in-person celebration is as important for the community as it is for the artists. These past two years have been quite difficult for artists to share their work, as many art events and festivals had to be canceled or postponed. But for Debbie, the pandemic had a silver lining—it provided more time for her to work on her art. “As an artist, I sought and found solace in writing poetry and creating folk art birds during the pandemic,” says Debbie. “It allowed me to explore the creation of my birds on a much deeper level and connected me to others. I had only made birds sporadically through the years, but the gift of time allowed me to create many more of them and inspired me to share them with others.”
For John, finding events to share his joy as Ubi the Clown has certainly been challenging. “The pandemic lockdown significantly curtailed the number of parties, events, shows, and performances I was hired for,” notes John. “In late winter through spring and early summer 2021, there were only a few birthday parties on my schedule. Then for a brief while, folks seemed very eager to get out and be social again before viral variants gained traction. Last year, I was part of ClydeFEST in the Wild. It was fun, but not as fun as seeing ALL the children, artists, and folks that make ClydeFEST happen, and all the rest that make being part of ClydeFEST such a gratifying and rich experience. Having it back as before will be great, I’m certain.”
ClydeFEST is free to all for the very first time this year. To find out more about what’s in store for you at the Bynum Ballfield on Saturday, April 30, click here.
ClydeFEST is being brought to you with the generous support of The Jester Group at Baird Wealth Management.
- What: ClydeFEST
- Where: Bynum Ballfield
- When: Saturday, April 30, from 11am-4pm
- Cost: Free!