By Steven Nalley
It may not have shared a Saturday with Super Bulldog Weekend this year, but vendors, artists, cooks, musicians and organizers at the Cotton District Arts Festival still found success and drew crowds.
Emilie Cravens, co-chair of CDAF, said the turnout was better than expected and she is pleased with it. She said it was difficult to compare this year’s festival with those adjoined to Super Bulldog Weekend, because so many other aspects of it had also changed.
“We rearranged the festival a little bit this year, so it’s a little bit different,” Cravens said. “Being a holiday weekend, we actually feel like we’re having one of our more successful years, since we’ve had an equal turnout to years where it’s been Super Bulldog Weekend. It might not be as busy, but they’re still coming in droves and hanging out. I think they’re spending a little more time here this year.”
Vendors at CDAF corroborated the idea that this year’s CDAF attendees might have come in smaller numbers but stayed longer. For instance, Shlynn Morris, co-owner of Morris’s Barbecue and Steak House, said she had several repeat customers come by her tent. However, she said that could be because of their tent’s new location.
“I would think in comparison to last year, we’ve had the same amount of customers come by,” Morris said, “and I think we’re in a better location, because we’re here at the beginning, versus being up a little bit farther.”
New additions to CDAF also succeeded, including the Writer’s Village’s new Author’s Tent. Its organizer, Lois Connington, said authors there had found success both selling and reading their works.
“We’ve had a couple of guest authors who weren’t actually selling their books. Becky Hagenston came in, and Reggie Kelly from the Cincinnati Bengals joined us and read from his book too, so that was very exciting.”
Patrick Tranum, sculptor and artist at Pipe Dreams Studio, said Saturday had also been kind to him. Pipe Dreams transforms pipes, gears, wheels, and other mechanical pieces into abstract sculptures of animals, people and other uncommon shapes.
“Even though it hasn’t been on Super Bulldog Weekend like it had been the past few years, the crowd is not that much less,” Tranum said. “They look like a more serious crowd, anyway. I mean, it’s been a good show, I’ve had a good time this time, as always. I’m from Starkville originally, so I get to meet friends I’ve seen recently and some I haven’t seen in a long time.”
One of the guests at the festival, Paisley Hamilton, said she enjoyed the wide variety of artists and vendors at CDAF.
“I definitely like K. Raye Pottery, and I think there was a Bohemian stand I really enjoyed too. They had some really neat hair wraps. The pottery and the music’s great too,” Hamilton said.
James Sobaskie, assistant professor at MSU’s music department, organized CDAF’s first Songwriter’s Competition, and he said it wouldn’t be their last. With 30 submissions to this year’s competition, he said, it wouldn’t surprise him to see 50 entrants next year, because it attracts young people trying to start musical careers.
“It’s the kind of thing that gets them noticed and encouraged,” Sobaskie said. “When we teach composition for my classes, just getting applause from your peers is kind of addictive. That’s really where good art comes from.”
Jordyn Mallory, winner of the songwriter’s competition, said she could attest to that. She liked her audience at CDAF, she said.
“You look out into the crowd, and there are different venues for different things, and in the middle of it, it’s all people,” Mallory said. “Even though they’re from a very far distance, they’re all watching and paying attention.”