Live music, food vendors, a quilt show, art demonstrations, a spinning wheel with live alpacas on site from which to sheer the wool, crafts, boats, a bouncy house and a Halloween costume parade are all scheduled for the event, which kicks off at 10 a.m. Saturday.
Downtown Benton used to have events like this every year dating back to the 1980s, according to Benton City Mayor Jerry Stephens.
“I wanted to bring this festival back, for the community,” Stephens said. “It’s an opportunity for the City to bring the community back together.”
Local quilters will be holding “Quilt Court” in the form of a quilt show located in the old courtroom on the third floor of the historic Polk County courthouse throughout the two-day event.
Quilts spanning several generations will be draped across the old courtroom benches. An elevator is available inside the courthouse that will take spectators directly to the courtroom.
The Polk County News will have a small display of quilts inside their office, and will be using the event to dedicate the 8- foot quilt square that marks them as a destination on the Appalachian Quilt Trail.
Members of the RC&D Council will be on hand with information about the trail, which dots the rural landscape with quilt blocks.
Saturday’s entertainment, paid for by grants from the Tennessee Arts Commission and Tennessee Overhill Heritage Association, are as follows:
1 p.m. — Lakeside (Bluegrass Gospel)
1:45 p.m. — Silvia Holiday (Acoustic)
2:15 p.m. — Lakeside
3:00 p.m. — Storytelling by Judy Baker
3:30 p.m. — Just Us (Bluegrass)
4:15 p.m. — Storytelling by Judy Baker
5 p.m. — Just Us
6 p.m. — Dana Rogers (Acoustic)
7:30 p.m. — Double Shot (Country)
Saturday also features a watercolor demonstration by local artist Marie Spaeder-Haas from 1 to 3 p.m. at the Polk County News.
“We’ve been planning this event for a long time and we’re excited to bring the arts to downtown Benton,” said Cheryl Maxwell.
Spaeder-Haas will be painting a rendition of Jim Caldwell’s photograph of the old Hiwassee Church reflecting in the Hiwassee River. Caldwell will also host a heritage photography exhibit inside the newspaper office that will include the Hiwassee Church reflection, as well as other heritage photography. Spaeder-Haas will have other watercolor paintings on hand to exhibit and sell.
Torch Art creations from the late Danny Hoskinson, known to many as “The Bucket Man,” will be on display during the event. Charlotte Woody, sister of Hoskinson, said they had a large number of empty unused buckets they planned to bring to sell, with all money made being given to the high school art department.
A boat show and fly-tying will be located on the south side of the courthouse. A bouncy room and other activities for kids will be available.
Alicia Sloan will do a demonstration with clay art and will offer pottery, purses, jewelry, paintings and other art for sale. Vendors will offer a variety of foods, candy, crochet items, candles, paintings, books, jewelry, glass etching, musical instruments made from wood, photography, Native American crafts, hairbows, gift baskets and more all around the downtown area both days. The United Daughters of the Confederacy will also be on hand through the event dressed in period costumes.
A tractor show is slated for Saturday at Benton IGA on Hwy 411, just south of the courthouse square. Fried pies, caramel apples and boiled peanuts as well as food from the IGA deli will be available.
Hayrides will be provided from Benton IGA to downtown enabling people to ride a wagon and easily go from the tractor show to the downtown events.
Sunday’s festivities will begin at 1 p.m. and gospel music acts will perform throughout the day. New Paved Road, along with singers from Welcome Valley Baptist Church, Zion Valley Baptist Church and Chestuee Baptist will perform.
The evening will finish with a costume parade around the courthouse square at 6 p.m. Candy will be available for trick-or-treaters.