The Howard County Courthouse square was bustling and alive on Saturday, April 6, 2016 as people of all ages joined to celebrate the eighth annual Fayette Festival of the Arts. The next festival is tentatively set for Aug. 5, 2017.
Other nearby festival location venues included CMU’s Ashby-Hodge Gallery of American Art (adult art show) and Linn Memorial United Methodist Church (quilt show). Live music, the art show, a quilt show with nearly 200 entries, good food and perfect weather — sunny skies and mild temperatures in the mid-80s — all combined to make a thoroughly enjoyable event. In addition, vintage vehicles, a Civil War encampment, a Dutch Oven demonstration, tours of historic Fayette, craft vendors, a free bounce house for kids, and PAWS (Pet Adoption and Welfare Service) provided additional diversions.
Sponsored under the umbrella of the Fayette Area Heritage Association (FAHA) with support from a number of other groups and individuals, the festival — as in past years — was designed to highlight awareness of Howard County’s rich historical heritage, in addition to showcasing this area’s contemporary culture and entertainment.
Event coordinator Jim Steele, retired publisher of the Fayette Newspapers, noted that feedback has been exceptionally positive. “This year’s event was, I believe, the best overall since we began in 2009,” he said. “Particularly the musical entertainment, along with strong art show participation, and the sale of food and crafts came together as never before.” The festival has become the premiere summer event in Fayette and includes a variety of live music from the Howard County Memorial Bandstand and the courthouse yard.
This also was the 17th year for the annual Fayette Art Show which is a major part of the festival. The most significant recent change for the art show has been the increase in elementary, middle school and high school entries. For the third year, youth works were displayed exclusively inside the courthouse. Adult works, professional and amateur, were shown in CMU’s Ashby-Hodge Gallery. Exhibits at both sites were open for public viewing from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Categories of art work displayed included painting (oil, acrylic, water color and pastel); drawing (pencil, or pen and ink); photography; sculpture; and varied media such as fiber art and computer art. Ribbons and cash prizes were awarded in all categories. Click here for results. A father-daughter team, Jerry and Emily Benner from Ferguson, served as art show judges.
Best known of the musical organizations that performed Aug. 6 is the Columbia Community Band which played beginning at 11 a.m. It has been a traditional favorite at the festival for many years dating back to a predecessor event known as the Great Fayette Freeze Off. Also of note this year was a New Orleans-style jazz group called Doc and Friends which performed following the cake auction. It was directed by retired CMU Swinney Conservatory Dean Ron Shroyer who in past years had been part of an organizatin known as the Storyville Stompers headed by the late Butch Antel. Joining Doc and Friends was CMU President Roger Drake on piano.
The remaining music and drama schedule included: The Show Me Brass Band, 9 a.m. (a group which has often performed in the past); excerpts from “Harvey” by the Fayette Area Community Theater, 9:45 a.m.; Just Friends Jazz Combo, 10 a.m., a Macon-based group which was new to the festival this year; and Miss Route 66 Jessica Harper singing her own compositions at 2:30 p.m. This was followed by the Morton Sisters, a vocal trio from Marshall which also was new to the festival this year and, like the other new group, was exceptionally well-received. One of the longtime favorites in the Boonslick area, Roy Stevens’ EZ Tunes, concluded the musical entertainmet.
The festival’s traditional cake auction took place immediately following the performance of the Columbia Community Band, with proceeds going 50-50 to the Fayette Ministerial Alliance Food Pantry and the festival for operational expenses. Mark Belcher donated his services as auctioneer, with Carlene and Don Cullimore serving as cake judges. First, second and third place ribbons were awarded. Click here to see winners.
The south side of the courthouse square was reserved for a display of classic cars and trucks, plus emergency responder vehicles on the north side. Adjacent to the courthouse, in addition to FAHA’s old-fashioned ice cream parlor, were a number of vendors serving-up a variety of tasty food items. Various artisans had interesting craft items for sale.
CMU history professor Robert Wiegers led a 10:30 a.m. walking tour highlighting the historic university campus and nearby homes. Also, local artist Millie Haggard did an interpretive presentation describing the Howard County history mural in the circuit courtroom starting at 2:30 p.m. Festival coordinator Jim Steele again served as master of ceremonies.
The Fayette Festival of the Arts is enhanced by its location. Fayette is the county seat of Howard County and the courthouse square provides a picturesque location for most of the festival. Central Methodist University, site of the Ashby-Hodge Gallery and Paul H. Linn Memorial United Methodist Church is just a short walk up Church St. from the square. Golf carts rides are available.
Fayette itself is located in central Missouri in an area of rolling hills dotted with small farms. It is easily accessible from Interstate 70 over scenic state roads from Boonville on the west and Columbia on the east. In addition to the courthouse square, Fayette has a number of structures which are listed on the national historic register and festival visitors are encouraged to tour the town by car or by foot.