Saturday, April 26, will mark the 20th birthday of Cultural Crossroads' Spring Arts Festival, a coming together of art-related activities for young, old and ages in between.
Held annually since 2001 at The Farm, a.k.a. Moess Center for the Arts & City Farm, organizers work their magic on the four-acre estate located on the corner of Talton Street and Hwy. 80 East. For hundreds of elementary students who will attend the festival, this will be their first real art experience.
"Fourth graders will be bused in this year to the festival grounds and will work side-by-side with professional artists in a variety of mediums and disciplines," Jeff Rhodes, a member of the festival steering committee, said.
Rhodes said the special day was cut from the activities last year due to budget cuts and smaller corporate donations.
"Thanks to the Junior Service League and their fundraising efforts last November, we were able to reinstate the 'Day on The Farm,'" he said.
The 20th edition Spring Arts Festival will include many of the public's favorite activities. Under the big tent, the Great Talent Search will be conducted. Artists and craftsmen will exhibit and sell their works on the grounds and more artists will be painting on the lawn.
Those who want to leave their mark on the festival will find the monster mural displaying a new message, and children and adults can sign up and participate in a variety of hands-on arts activities. Most of these are free of charge.
Lakeside High School sophomore Abby Reynolds has been enjoying the festival since she was an infant.
"I've been involved since I was about two years old because my mom is a part of it," Reynolds said. "When I was in the seventh or eighth grade, I entered the talent, art and poetry contests and won Webster Parish's most talented student."
That win, plus the encouragement and support of Chris Broussard (chairman of the board of Cultural Crossroads) and others at The Farm "...have helped me realize a potential I once didn't think I had," Reynolds said.
The daughter of Jenny and Dustin Reynolds, she wants to be a forensic scientist. Participating in the arts may not seem like a natural fit for her chosen profession, but she doesn't see it that way.
"I use both sides of my brain. As an artist, it gives me an eye for detail. Art includes different elements of what I should look for, and it teaches patience," Reynolds said.
"The Spring Arts Festival is one of the most unique things I've ever experienced," she added. "The whole town, no matter what class or race, comes together. It's a way to express who you are."
A special event this year will include viewing the life-sized gingerbread house created as a public art piece by commissioned artist, Heather Evans. Grimm's fairy tale will take on a new twist with Hansel and Gretel re-imagined as chickens. A play written, produced and acted by children will be performed during the day Saturday.
The Spring Arts Festival, originally held in downtown Minden, underwent a distinctive change of scenery in 1999 when Zenobia West donated her family home and property to the non-profit Cultural Crossroads. With the assistance of a grant from the U.S. Army, the over-grown, vacant lot was transformed.
A modest house on the property was painted the "colors of childhood" and plans began to develop the four acres into a center for arts and agriculture. The Farm is now home to a new 900-square-foot studio named Zenobia's House, for its benefactor. The House offers earned income opportunities through paint parties and rentals for private events.