Foothills Folk Art Festival to be held in downtown Newton | Local News

NEWTON — The Downtown Newton Development Association and the Hickory Museum of Art will partner to present the fifth annual Foothills Folk Art Festival. The festival will welcome guests from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, May 14, in downtown Newton.

The Foothills Folk Art Festival is a free, family-friendly celebration influenced by the spirit of folk art, visionary and foreign. Thousands of guests are expected around the 1924 Courthouse Square to browse and purchase unique pieces created by more than 75 artists admitted to the festival.

In addition to continuing a tradition of supporting folk artists while strengthening the economic and cultural vibrancy of downtown Newton, the festival will feature interactive art demonstrations, hands-on art and reading activities for children, live music performances on two stages, food trucks selected to complement downtown restaurants, and outdoor cafes stocked with craft, domestic, and imported beers.

Streets lined with artist booths will echo with the acoustic shimmer of steel drums and friendly accents of plucked banjos during live musical performances scheduled at the Frank & Sue Jones Amphitheater and the recently completed Yount Park performance space at the corner of Main Avenue and A Street. This year’s lineup includes Moose & Friends, JB & Joe, Strictly Clean and Decent, Pan Jive and Red Rocking Chair.

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Getting to the festival is a breeze, as guests are welcome to park in one of the hundreds of free street parking spaces and the many free public car parks around the perimeter of the event. Or customers can skip the search for a spot altogether by going to the Catawba County Government Complex at 100 Southwest Blvd. (US 321 Business) and parking at or near the parking lot to catch a free shuttle that will drop passengers off in the middle of all the festivities in minutes. Shuttles will operate from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and are ideal for guests traveling in large groups or who will benefit most from the festival by limiting walking distances. DNDA and HMA are grateful to Greenway Public Transportation and Abernethy Laurels for once again providing the drivers and buses that make the complementary service possible.

Designated parking for guests with valid disabled permits will be available closer to the festival on a first-come basis in the parking lot at 217 Main Ave. To access the parking lot, show your permit to volunteers wearing bright yellow T-shirts at the barricade on Main Avenue where it intersects East 3rd Street.

In collaboration with the Foothills Folk Art Festival, Debra Zimmerman has been named Folk Artist 2022 in the Schools. Zimmerman will spend the Friday before the festival visiting local school children and leading them in a demonstration of art making.

The Downtown Newton Development Association (DNDA) and the Hickory Museum of Art (HMA) are looking forward to reviving the Foothills Folk Art Festival on May 14 after postponing events scheduled for 2020 and 2021 for public health reasons. All parts of this year’s festival are planned for well-ventilated outdoor spaces, additional hand-washing stations with soap and running water will be set up, and face coverings will be available upon request at information booths throughout the festival. Everyone is asked to respect the personal space of anyone wearing a face covering and to support any request from the artists and/or festival organizers to avoid crowding inside the stands.

Comprehensive festival information – including a list of artists and representative photos of the art they plan to bring to the festival, a schedule of the day’s musical performances, answers to frequently asked questions and opportunities volunteering and sponsorship – can be found at Get up-to-date festival information straight to your feed by liking and following the Foothills Folk Art Festival on Facebook at

The roots of the Foothills Folk Art Festival date back to 2005, when HMA acquired 153 folk art objects from Barry and Allen Huffman of Hickory. Since acquiring the Huffman Collection, HMA has showcased contemporary Southern folk art through a variety of exhibitions, public programs, and special events. The museum also features a permanent folk art exhibit, Discover Folk Art: Unique Visions by Southern Self-Taught Artists, located on the third floor. The museum, located at 243 Third Ave. NE, Hickory, is open Tuesday through Sunday and admission is free. Shoppers can also purchase unique folk art from the museum’s shop, shopHMA. For more information about the Hickory Museum of Art, visit the museum’s website at

Following the relocation of the festival from Sherrills Ford to downtown Newton in 2016 upon the formation of the ongoing partnership between DNDA and HMA, the Foothills Folk Art Festival was recognized as the Department of Commerce’s Best Downtown Special Event. North Carolina and the Hickory Daily Record’s festival of the year. The presenters are proud to continue building the event’s reputation as one of the finest annual celebrations of contemporary folk art and artists in the United States.

Going forward, DNDA and HMA plan to hold the festival on the second Saturday in May each year.

“We are thrilled to once again partner with the Downtown Newton Development Association to present the Foothills Folk Art Festival,” said Jon Carfagno, Executive Director of the Hickory Museum of Art. “The event so vividly represents the museum’s vision of bringing people together and inspiring creativity through the power of art.”

“The Foothills Folk Art Festival is made possible by dozens of volunteers who give their time and talents as we work together to build something new in downtown Newton,” said Mary Yount, Director of the Downtown Newton Development Association and Newton’s Main Street program. “We are fortunate to continue the partnership with the Hickory Museum of Art that allows us to bring incredible artists from across the Southeast to downtown Newton each year, and we are grateful to the dealers and owners who continue to support the festival and welcome the thousands of guests it brings to our community.

Producer sponsors include Catawba Valley Community College, The Trott House Inn and the City of Newton. Supporting sponsors include Cargo Transporters, Renwood Mills, Sarstedt and United Arts Council of Catawba County. Festival donors include Alex Lee Inc., Bassett Furniture, CommScope, ElectriCities of North Carolina, McCreary Modern Inc., Peoples Bank, Steve White Motors and Shurtape Technologies.

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Reggie S. Williams