published Sunday, October 31st, 2010

Festival promotes Benton's heritage, area artists

  • photo
    Staff Photo by Harrison Keely/Chattanooga Times Free Press Damian King, dressed as Clifford the Big Red Dog, points to the alpaca zoo on the square at the Benton Festival in Benton, Tenn., on Saturday.

BENTON, Tenn. -- Costumes, quilts, artists and musicians are all at the town square this weekend in a festival meant to parade heritage and talent in Polk County.

Cheryl Maxwell, owner of the Polk County News, said she decided to organize Benton Arts & Heritage Days because there's not much of an outlet for local artists. She said many people pitched in to make the event happen.

"It's beyond my expectations, honestly," Maxwell said. "We definitely want to do it annually."

In addition to numerous vendors, a tractor show, hayrides and gospel music, there's an ongoing exhibition of spinning alpaca wool.

On Saturday, local artist Marie Spaeder Haas demonstrated her watercolor work.

County Executive Hoyt Firestone said he hopes the event will help to promote the city, and said he was impressed by the "Quilt Court" show in the old courtroom.

"It's one of the largest quilt exhibits I have ever seen," he said. "There are about 95."

Benton resident Georgia Blickenstaff said one of her daughter's quilts was featured in the bedspread collection, which she enjoyed seeing.

"This was my favorite part," she said. "It's just breathtaking, really."

Despite some wind gusts, Firestone said he was impressed by the turnout.

"You couldn't ask for better cooperation of the weather," he said.

A Halloween costume parade is planned for 6 p.m. today, with candy available for trick-or-treaters.

See more photos from the Benton Arts & Heritage Days

about Harrison Keely...

Harrison Keely is an online breaking news producer for the Chattanooga Times Free Press. He also anchors the daily newscast. He joined the Times Free Press as a reporter in 2010. He previously served as managing editor of the Smoky Mountain Sentinel in western North Carolina and as a business reporter for the Washington Times in Washington, D.C. He graduated from Lee University in 2009 where he served as managing editor of the student news ...

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