The Southern Glamper: Kentuck - A Utopian place and home to a heavenly art festival

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Kentuck - A Utopian place and home to a heavenly art festival

Monday, October 28, 2019

The Kentuck Art Festival offers unique pieces from artists all over the country.

Just outside of Tuscaloosa, Alabama is the town of Northport.  This community began as the settlement of Kentuck.  In 1871, Northport achieved its name as the northernmost point of the Black Warrior River.  So, where did the name Kentuck come from and how did it become the art festival that it is today?


During the settlement's humble beginnings as Kentuck, this word was actually used to describe a place as "ideal" or "Utopian-like".  The original settlers named their community Kentuck to honor their home and utilize the name as a way to focus on the future.  Today, the hashtag #placeofheaven is used with some of the festival's posts.  It's a fitting description and reference to the early days.

In 1971, Northport (the original community of Kentuck) held a centennial festival.  The downtown area hosted an event with traditional crafts, community members dressed as pioneers and a few artists exhibiting their work.  The success of this celebratory event led to the annual event that is now known as the Kentuck Art Festival.

The Kentuck Art Center in Northport, Alabama


The Event

The festival is held each fall rain or shine in Kentuck Park.  The shady park is a beautiful location for wandering and viewing the artist's work.  Attendees can purchase tickets online or at the gate.  There are weekend passes for both days as well as single-day tickets and a VIP package.  We attended on a single day and felt like we had plenty of time to enjoy all that the festival had to offer.  If you wantedt to see more of the musical acts or spoken word events, a weekend pass would be the way to go.  It really depends on how much you plan to see.

We paid $10 for our tickets.  The weekend passes were $15.  Children under 12 get in free.  The festival does not allow dogs unless they are service animals, and I think that this makes this event more enjoyable.  

We had a great time at the Kentuck Art Festival.


How to Get There

Parking is free for the festival.  You can park near the event, at Kentuck Park, or downtown.  We had no problem finding a parking location downtown.  Everything is well marked for the festival.  As you drive into Northport, there are signs directing visitors to parking locations all over the area.

One festival bonus is the free shuttle service to the event from the downtown parking location.  Shortly after we parked, we hopped onto a school bus that was being used for the event.  Busses ran all during the day, and we had virtually no wait.  It was just a short ride from the pickup location across the street from where we parked to the event.  

Riding the shuttle bus to the festival was easy and quick.

Artists

There was an excellent variety of artists from all over the country.  I was amazed at all of the art and the distances many of them traveled.  Some artists were conducting demonstrations.  We were able to talk to artists throwing pottery, painting and carving wooden bowls.  Our son really enjoyed being able to interact with the artist and ask questions.

The artists that exhibit their work must apply for a slot annually.  Artists submit images of their work and information about their process for a jury to select professionals based on their score.  I feel like this leads to the quality of the work within the show.   

There were performing artists on a musical stage and spoken word going on during the festival.  The performing artists were also unique and provided a nice background as we walked around.   

The metal works pouring metal into casting molds.

For Children

The Kentuck Art Festival has plenty of activities for children.  There is a playground within the park that many children enjoyed playing on during the event.  There is also a designated children's area with volunteers helping children to explore art activities.  From modeling clay and face painting to musical instrument exploration and tie-dyed tee shirts, there are plenty of exciting choices to experience.  

We took the time to stop and create a mold for a metal casting that was forged.  We were able to watch the melted metal being poured into the mold, cooled, removed from the mold and dipped a water bath to cool.  

The finished metal casting that our son created a mold for at one of the booths.

The modeling clay was also fun!

Creating the metal casting mold was a new and fun experience.  

Where to Stay

The Tuscaloosa and Northport area does have plenty of hotels.  However, we opted to camp at nearby Deerlick Creek.  It is a Corp of Engineer Park that is about 30 minutes from the festival.  The sites are $27 a night for RV sites.  You can reserve a tent site for less.  This park offers well-kept grounds and facilities with large, private, wooded sites.  It was worth the drive to enjoy the natural beauty of the area.  

Lake Lurleen State Park is also just outside of Tuscaloosa.  We have camped at this location as well.  However, we prefer Deerlick Creek.  The facilities are better maintained, and more enjoyable.  

Our campsite at Deerlick Creek.

Deerlick Creek Campground has large decks at some sites with plenty of room and privacy.


We purchased several small and unique pieces.  I love my clock from an Indiana native that makes metal pieces from repurposed, vintage tins, trays, and containers.  I grabbed a folk art sign from NOLA's Dr. Bob.  Finally, I can't resist ceramics and pottery.  The Star of David piece is a nice addition to our home.  Each piece is just right for our home and adds some unique charm.  Our friends Josh and Bryan camped with us that weekend and attended the festival.  We all had a great time!





Since we are only a couple of hours away from the Tuscaloosa/Northport area, it was an easy weekend get away for us.  If you are looking for a different fall adventure in the deep south, mark your calendars for the next Kentuck Art Festival.  It is one of the best art festivals that I have ever attended.  I feel certain that we will return.  I'm just sad that I waited this long to go!

Until next time...

Many thanks to Bryan Steadman for allowing me to use some of his photos from the Kentuck Art Festival!


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