SIKESTON - It is an event that promises to pique the interest of palates, art enthusiasts and music lovers alike.
Sponsored by Sikeston Missouri Arts Inc., the Missouri Arts Council along with area businesses, organizations and individuals, the Cotton Festival of the Arts is an annual event that offers something for everyone.
This year's festival is set for 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday at the American Legion Park in downtown Sikeston. Last year's celebration drew over 2,000 people.
"My answer to why people should come to the Cotton Festival of the Arts this year would have been different two weeks ago," said Terry Matthews, SMARTS administrator.
"My heart aches for all those that have lost. This tragic event is at the front of our hearts and minds. This is our country, this is our home that has a dark cloud hanging over. But this is also a time for our community to pull together. We all need to feel the support of everyone from our surrounding communities.
"One way is to celebrate the arts, especially through the eyes of children. What better way than for our surrounding communities to come together and appreciate each other's uniqueness. This is a day to celebrate children. We are focusing on them and providing them a creative learning experience."
The festivities this year will feature 12 food booths, seven children's art booths and what could possibly end up being more than 10 vendor booths set up by organizations whose wares will include everything from funnel cakes to art to furniture.
Matthews said she is especially excited about the cake walk set for 2 p.m. by the flag pole. This event will feature 20 decorated cakes made by local residents. Those participating will walk around the shape of an artist palate.
Afterward, children will have an opportunity to enter the palate and create sidewalk chalk art in the shape of decorated cakes.
"Many people are volunteering their time to make this fifth year of the Cotton Festival of the Arts a success and we have new things," said Matthews. "We have totally restructured the festival, hoping to provide an art process for young people. It is easy to walk by and see art, but we want people to stop and see how things are actually created by the artist. We are so excited, not knowing what it will be but knowing it will be good," Matthews said.
"Just like a baby being born, everyone is happy when it gets here and there is cause for celebration. We want people to experience the Cotton Festival of the Arts together and enjoy being with different people."
Guests will have a chance to listen to Gladys Coggswell and her captivating storytelling from noon to 5 p.m. A nationally recognized storyteller, Coggswell often has been referred to as a one-woman industry and has worn many hats including radio producer/director/host, educator, lecturer, vocalist, dramatic historian, folklorist, researcher, organizer, editor, consultant and mentor to storytelling hopefuls.
There will also be a photo contest on exhibit at the Sikeston Depot and various storytellers, magic tricks and a sing-a-long from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at Ms. Cottontale's Story Porch.
Throughout the day entertainment will be provided by the Sikeston High School Jazz Band, Common Thread, Salvation's Well from the First United Methodist Church, Smith Chapel Choir, Logan Toon of Stormy Bugg and the Cornerstone Baptist Choir.
J.R. Reed and the Real Blues Band will give a benefit performance from 7-11 p.m. Saturday in the parking lot behind Jeremiah's restaurant. Reed has been listed in the Missouri Arts Council/Missouri Touring Program for the past three years and has been a master for the Missouri Folk Arts Program. Tickets are $5 and can be purchased at the door.
"While eating the wonderful food that is served by the food vendors you have wonderful music to listen to and it seems to touch a person in more than one of their senses, making it a more meaningful experiences," Matthews noted.
"Of course, seeing the children excited and proud of what they have created is always a plus for parents and viewers as well.
The Cotton Festival of the Arts celebrates cotton production and agriculture as a major part of our area's agricultural economy, Matthews explained. "The Cotton Festival of the Arts wants to develop and enrich our cultural heritage and encourage community interest in the arts. What better way than to combine agriculture and art together."