Danville's Constitution Square Arts Fest honors Willoughby

September 15, 2009|By JENNIFER BRUMMETT

When the Constitution Square Festival rolled around last year, Brenda Willoughby had one eye on the weekend event and one on her impending retirement in December. She always maintained the festival, which she'd headed up for more than a decade, was one of the fun parts of her job as Constitution Square State Historic Site park manager.

Despite having increased budget constraints from the state department of parks, Willoughby still was bringing in new artisans and food vendors, and bringing back popular entertainers. The crowds swarmed the site a year ago, taking in the flavor of a long-standing arts and crafts festival that had grown bigger and better under Willoughby's leadership.

Then, in February, the state parks department announced the Constitution Square Festival would be suspended for 2009. On the heels of that announcement, a community group banded together with a new name and focus for the festival, which will be held Sept. 18-20 at Constitution Square State Historic Site. The Constitution Square Arts Fest has more of an emphasis on the arts, and is locally run and funded.


Some vendors who regularly attended the September festival made other plans after the state sent a letter saying the festival was canceled. But so far, the Constitution Square Arts Fest has 146 exhibitors.

It has, however, taken a number of people to do the job Willoughby did by herself.

"Replacing Brenda is an impossible task. It has taken a committee of 25 or more to do all the tasks that Brenda did as a staff of one," said Julie Wagner, executive director of the Heart of Danville Main Street Program and a Kentucky Certified Mainstreet Manager. "We knew going into this that not one person could tackle all that she did. We were just smart enough to realize that her big shoes needed to be filled by many volunteers.

"Brenda was the face and identity in some respects of the festival. Naturally, our goal was to honor all that she has done by keeping the historic and educational aspects of the event in place."

In keeping with the previous festival, Friday's School Day is intact. It will feature activities specifically geared toward children. A variety of musicians are scheduled throughout the weekend, playing dulcimers, guitars and fiddles, and performing country, folk and gospel music.

The artisans will exhibit and sell wares ranging from traditional — quilts, baskets and pottery — to contemporary — sculpture, jewelry and glass. Other crafts include Shaker reproductions, antiques, photography, gourd art and metalwork.

Wagner said this year's festival planners are hoping to carry on the tradition established by Willoughby.

"Brenda was a genius in marrying the commercial portion of the festival with the historic interpretation that Constitution Square stands for," she explained. "We hope to continue her legacy as we strive to grow the event.

"This year, we have 146 participants. Next year, we hope to add more and slowly grow the event into the signature arts and crafts festival in Central Kentucky."

Friday, Sept. 18

Main Stage

9 a.m.-9:40 a.m.: Civil War re-enactors

9:45-10:30 a.m.: Civil War re-enactors

10:30-11:15 a.m.: Thomas Freese, storytelling

11:30 a.m.-12:15 p.m.: Mark Comley, magician

12:15-1 p.m.: Thomas Freese, storytelling

1-4 p.m.: recorded music

3-4:45 p.m.: Josh Reardon, sponsored by Prudential Guerrant Real Estate

5:45-7:15 p.m.: Miss Constitution Square Arts Fest Pageant

7:30-8:45 p.m.: Frankley Scarlet, sponsored by Community Trust Bank

7:30-9:30 p.m.: The Brantley Gilbert Band, country music

Second Stage

10:30-11:15 a.m.: Civil War re-enactors

11:30 a.m.-12:15 p.m.: Civil War re-enactors

Saturday, Sept. 19

Main Stage

10-11 a.m.: Robert Tincher, early Kentucky Celtic music

11 a.m.-noon: George Rogers Clark Chautauqua, sponsored by Economic Development Partnership

Noon-1:30 p.m.: Shady Creek, bluegrass, sponsored by Danville Office Equipment

2-3 p.m.: First Baptist Male Choir

3-4 p.m.: Henry Clay Chautauqua, sponsored by Convention & Visitors Bureau

4-5 p.m.: Robert Tincher

5-5:30 p.m. Humane Society Dog Show

6-7:30 p.m.: Blind Carbon Copy, gospel, sponsored by Cottage B&B

8-10:30 p.m.: Jim Duff, country and rock

Second Stage

Noon-5 p.m.: Russ Childers and Friends

5-5:30 p.m.: Tumbleweed Line Dancers and Cloggers

Sunday, Sept. 20

Main Stage

Noon-1:30 p.m.: Conrad Shiba, folk music, sponsored by Centre College

1:30-2 p.m.: Jane Todd Crawford play

2-3 p.m.: The Obsessions, sponsored by Farmers National Bank

2:45-3 p.m.: Danville High School cheerleaders, in park

3-4 p.m.: Adolph Rupp Chautauqua, sponsored by Heart of Danville

4-5 p.m.: Advocate Brass Band, brass music and American favorites

5 p.m.: Constitution Square 5K Run

Second Stage

11 a.m.-noon: Russ Childers & Friends

Noon-1:30 p.m.: Dan Keaton Duet

1:30-2 p.m.: Humane Society Dog Show

2-4 p.m.: Dulcimers

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