By Paul T. Choate
Sept. 5, 2012. Starting at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 8, festivities will begin for the 50th anniversary celebration of Art in the Park in Blowing Rock. The celebration will feature live music, original artwork from the 1962 Art in the Park and an awards ceremony for the co-founders of the event.
The Lucky Strikes will perform at the gazebo in Memorial Park from 2 to 3 p.m. Beginning at 3 p.m. an awards ceremony will begin where Edith Carter, co-founder of the event in 1962, will be presented with an award. Carter, of Ferguson, N.C., is now 82 years old and still an important figure in the arts world. Shirley Snyder will also accept a plaque in honor of her late husband Bob Snyder, co-founder of Art in the Park.
According to Charles Hardin, executive director of the Blowing Rock Chamber of Commerce, Snyder came up with the idea because “Blowing Rock didn’t have anything to do much.”
“He called [Carter] because she was one of those ‘get it done’ kind of people,” said Hardin. Subsequently, the two of them created something that has enjoyed 50 consecutive years of success.
After the ceremony, at 4 p.m., the celebration will move to the American Legion building, which will be set up to look like the inaugural Art in the Park with several original pieces from 1962. Hardin said he is hoping several of the artists from the first annual Art in the Park will be able to attend. Snacks and refreshments will also be available.
On prominent local artist was featured during the very first Art in the Park. Bob Timberlake, who has been widely renowned for decades, showcased his works there during 1962.
“As a matter of fact, a lot of the artists that are pretty popular in our area here got their start over there,” said Hardin.
Not only has Art in the Park been a staple of cultural significance for the Blowing Rock community, it has also provided an annual economic stimulus to the area. Hardin said that in recent years, according to an economic impact study, the Art in the Park series brings in an estimated $2.5 million to Blowing Rock hotels, restaurants and shops. The six shows, which run from May until October, average about 5,000 attendees per show.
“It is a regular event for people to put on their calendar to come up for weekends, so we pretty much fill the hotels and restaurants — and of course people shop — so that is the important part for the Chamber because it puts people in the businesses here,” said Hardin.
Hardin said he is anticipating a turnout of between 5,000 and 7,000 people for Saturday’s 50th anniversary celebration.
Art in the Park is planned and administered by the Blowing Rock Chamber of Commerce. Free shuttles to the site are available from the Tanger Shoppes on the Parkway and the Food Lion grocery on U.S. 321.
For more information, visit blowingrock.com or call 877-295-4636.