The Greenwood Chamber of Commerce will be holding its first annual Art Festival Saturday May 7 from 9 am to 5 pm that will run along the city’s walking trail from the Coal Miner’s Memorial to the Betty Wilkinson Senior Center.

"We are hoping to have at least 50 artists in our first year," said Chamber of Commerce President Teri Hicks. "Artists of all kind are welcome including painters, chainsaw sculptors, blacksmiths and many others."

The festival will be free for all artists with no sign up fee or commission for the first year in order to raise interest in the the first year. May 7 should be a busy day in Greenwood with the art festival occurring the same day as the Airing of the Quilts, which the Historical Society hosts each year.

Those with handcrafted Items such as arts and crafts, homemade soaps and jellies will be able to set up on the square and be apart of the farmers market on the day of the event.

"I would like to see this become a bustling weekend for Greenwood," said Hicks.

The Chamber received a grant from the Advertising and Promotion Commission in the amount of $8,800 to promote the festival and help bring people from out of town to Greenwood to see the artwork, the quilts and hopefully buy gas, eat and shop here in town.

Hicks stated that her vision for the festival will be one that eventually runs all the way from city hall up into Bell Park one day.

"I wanted to do this for a long time because I am an artist," said Hicks. "And the Chamber of Commerce’s function is to bring people to Greenwood. People pay their dues and they want something for it. I have racked my brain ever since I have been on the Chamber board for something we could do." This will be Hicks last year as the Chamber’s President.

Hicks said that she received inspiration for the festival from Newport Arkansas and their festival the Delta Visual Arts Show. Hicks stated that Newport began their art show eight years ago and that only 17 artist came to show off their work. Today Newport hosts more than 170 artists each year and it is estimated that they sold more than $250,000 last year alone. "This is a town that battled hurdles that we do not have," said Hicks. "So I thought; If they can do this then we can too and even bigger because Greenwood alone has a network of 30 to 40 very good artists."

Hicks said that in the future she would like to see each artists donate one piece of art in lieu of an entry fee that could be auctioned off at either the Fourth of July Freedomfest or the Fallfest. The proceeds from the sales would go back into the festival and lessen the amount of funds needed from the A&P commission. "Also I don’t want this to be something that costs the Chamber money," said Hicks. "I would like for it to be something that we get money out of and then put back into."

In the coming weeks the Greenwood Democrat will give you a sneak peek of some of the artwork that will be at the festival by featuring artists that have been accepted by the festival.

Artists and food vendors are encouraged to call the Chamber at 479-996-0634 or visit the web site at www.greenwoodarkansas.com to download applications for the festival. The first 50 artists to be approved will be provided a tent along the trail.