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Inaugural Art Struck Festival coming to Johnson City this weekend

Jonathan Roberts • Sep 23, 2019 at 9:30 AM

If festivals were currency, Johnson City may well be one of the richest cities in America.

This weekend, the city that already boasts several marquee festivals -- namely, Umoja, Blue Plum and Little Chicago -- is adding one more to the mix: The inaugural Art Struck Festival.

“We’re hoping that this really brings together the arts community in a way that hasn’t happened before to our knowledge,” said festival planner Cheyenne Kumbhare. “We hope it shows the public that there is a large arts community and support for the arts in Johnson City.”

The Johnson City Public Art Committee will host the festival, with larger hopes of making the festival an annual tradition in downtown — and one that is mutually beneficial for the city and the artists.

“It’s a mutual kind of investment,” said committee member Nancy Fischman. “I’m really excited about the response we got.”

That response includes more than three dozen artists and art vendors who will be set up throughout Founders Park, and eight art demonstration and activity hosts. There will also be information booths from the art departments of East Tennessee State University, Milligan College, Tusculum University and King University.

“I think it’s important to highlight the local artists in the area,” Fischman said. “I think part of the responsibilities of the public art committee is to make sure that people are aware of the breadth and quality of artists in the area.”

And though local and regional arts will be the central focus, the Knoxville-based Cattywampus Puppet Council’s Puppet March will undoubtedly be one of the festival’s defining events.

“The puppet’s are going to be great,” Fischman said.

The event will also feature printmaking with a road roller, a community mural and a weaving fence. Other performances will be taking place nonstop from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.

“I’m really excited about the steamroller because I saw something like that done in San Francisco one year, and it was really cool,” Fischman said. “It’s going to be really neat that we’ll have some prints made by local artists that’ll be in large print format.”

And though this is only the first festival, Fischman hopes to see it not only grow, but become one of the city’s hallmark events.

“There are other art fairs in the region, but we don’t have a big one in Johnson City that really focuses on quality art, so that’s what we’re trying to (create),” she said.

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