Arts Festival at Rose Lawn set for this weekend

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Capturing Best in Show at last year's event, Ronnie Payne and his wife, Brhonda, continue to garner accolades at the Arts Festival at Rose Lawn. Delighted to display and sell pottery at this weekend's festivities, the Emerson residents and their Payne Pottery stoneware have turned into fixtures at the event over the past two decades.

"That was a tremendous honor for us," Payne said about last year's award. "That actually was the second time we had won Best in Show there over the last 18 to 20 years. … [The Arts Festival at Rose Lawn is] like a big family gathering. There's so many wonderful people in Bartow County that come to that show.

"… People in that community have supported what I do for a very, very long time now, and it's just a wonderful show for us," he said, adding he will sell various items — including large churns, nearly 100 coffee cups, story jars and jugs, pitchers, vases and possibly some electric lamps at the upcoming Arts Festival at Rose Lawn. "It's like a family. Some of those people are there all day. They don't go home. They just stay, watch the entertainment, go around and mingle and talk with folks. Like I said, it's just like a big, family reunion." 

Set for Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Sunday, noon to 5 p.m., the 43rd annual Arts Festival at Rose Lawn will cover the grounds of the former Cartersville residence of the late renowned evangelist Samuel Porter Jones. Currently operated by Bartow County government as a house museum, the building is situated at 224 W. Cherokee Ave.

"The Arts Festival at Rose Lawn is well known for having great artists, especially great potters," said Regina Wheeler, deputy director of the Cartersville-Bartow County Convention & Visitors Bureau and a member of the festival's committee. "The Paynes have taken home top honors at the festival a few times and have placed in the Heritage Crafts category in other years. The festival committee works hard each year to choose different qualified judges, and have not repeated a juror more than 13 years.

"For artists to earn multiple honors year after year at Rose Lawn means their work reflects the highest quality of its time. It is always special when local artists take honors because we do have exhibitors from across the Southeast. The jurors are only given the artist's name and medium, so they are truly judging only the work shown."

Established in the early 2000s, Payne Pottery is a working studio situated at 97 "Old" Old Alabama Road in Emerson. Graduating from Cass High School in 1978, Payne credits his high school art teacher, Bill Amos; his mentor, potter Ron Cooper; and W.J. Gordy for his professional success. While Payne turns the pieces in his studio, his wife applies decorations — such as dogwood blooms and sunflowers — to the works.

"It's a tremendous blessing to me and an honor," Payne said, referring to customers purchasing his pottery. "I went from being here in my shop every day and literally nobody knowing who I was at all, to people starting to order [my pottery]. … I think one of the biggest reasons that the Lord's blessed my business like He has is a lot of my success, I think, has [come] truthfully from Mr. Gordy.

"Mr. Gordy came to Bartow County in 1935 right in the middle of the Depression and started a pottery business. He turned pottery right here in Bartow County for 58 years, right up till the year he died in 1993. That's 58 years that a man turned pottery in this county. If you say 20 years is a generation, [he] got really close to three generations of people being right here in the county buying pottery from him. Well, that's where I think a lot of my success has come from, is because what he did is he opened the door to people appreciating pottery and handmade items from him. And what that did is it very much developed an appreciation for handmade pottery. Over the years, it's overwhelming how much success he had."

In addition to winning Best in Show in 2007 and 2017, the Paynes also took first and second place in the Heritage Crafts division in 2012 and 2016, respectively.

Other local artists who have received top recognition since the Juried Artists Awards were implemented in 2005 include Best in Show — Sharon Camp of Taylorsville, pottery, 2016; Terri Paulk of Cartersville, Walk with Hymn wooden staffs, 2011; Gail Freeman of Cartersville, Spring Place Pottery, 2008; First Place Heritage Crafts — Drew Oxford of Cartersville, woodturning, 2016; Tina Evans of Taylorsville, fiber, 2009; First Place Fine Arts — Anne Wing of Acworth, jewelry, 2012; and Bartow County Heritage Award — Darrell Adams of Cartersville, pottery, 2006. 

Presented by Bartow County government and Rose Lawn Museum, the juried festival will be sponsored by the Cartersville-Bartow County CVB.

On Saturday, accolades will be bestowed in three different presentations starting at 1 p.m.: Juried Artists Awards, the Hospitality Heroes Awards and the People’s Choice Awards for the top attraction, restaurant and shop. While the People’s Choice Awards are voted on by the public, the Hospitality Heroes are nominated by various organizations, with the recipients selected by the Cartersville-Bartow County CVB’s board of directors.

"New artists emerge every year making it a difficult task to have to place artists on a waiting list," Wheeler said, noting this year's festival will feature more than 150 vendors. "At the close of each show, we give current exhibitors the opportunity to register for the next year's festival. We had several artists from years past that we had to turn away this year because the space had filled.

"I think the biggest change in the festival is offering the guided museum tours and the phenomenal growth of the event," she said, regarding to how the festival has evolved over the years. "Did I mention that the festival admission is free? I think that is what sets this festival apart for most people. You will be hard-pressed to find a festival of this size, with this many quality artists and handcrafters, with free admission and free shuttle service. This truly is a gift from Bartow County to its residents and visitors. I most enjoying buying unique gifts for family and friends, and also sitting under a shade tree while talented musicians and singers entertain."

While there will be no admission fee to enter the festival, Wheeler said there will be a $7 charge to partake in guided tours of the Rose Lawn Museum.

While touring the historic structure, patrons will learn details about Jones, whose ministry started small — preaching at various churches and open-air tabernacles surrounding Cartersville. Gaining notoriety during the late 1800s, he drew thousands to revivals at the Union Gospel Tabernacle, which is now known as Ryman Auditorium — home of the Grand Ole Opry.

Complimentary shuttle service will be available from the parking lots of the Frank Moore Administration and Judicial Center at 135 W. Cherokee Ave. and the Olin Tatum Agricultural Building — near the Cartersville Public Library — at 320 W. Cherokee Ave.

For more information about the Rose Lawn Museum and its festival, visit www.roselawnmuseum.com.