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The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

Cotton District Art Festival continues its annual success

Sarah Dutton

As the Cotton District Arts Festival comes to a close, a vendor momentarily plays with a customer’s child before packing up and heading home after the long day. 

Saturday, the Cotton District was bustling with food, music, a plethora of art and 30 years worth of tradition. 

The Starkville Area Arts Council hosted the Cotton District’s Art Festival this past Saturday in a unique, central location. Stretched along University Drive in Starkville’s Cotton District were 120 Artisan vendors, 19 bands and 40,000 people who were able to experience the inspiring event the organizers, such as Laurie Burton,   aimed to provide. 

“We’re about the arts and promoting originality and creativity,” Burton, the CDAF’s Artisan’s Village chairman, said.  “That’s what we try to do. We try to bring a great balance between art, music and food, so it’s all really creative and inspiring.” 

The family oriented festival hit the ground running around 8 a.m. with a 5k. There were multiple mediums of art to view and participate in, including entertainment provided by local musicians, a poetry competition and awards presented through the Juried Arts Exhibition and Competition. 

The family-oriented and culturally-diverse festival had numerous opportunities to get involved. Children’s Village was a location that allowed children to be hands on with art and enjoy the event just as much as the adults. There was an International Village and separate locations that emphasized the diversity within art, such as the Celtic Village.

SAAC had been putting together the festival since November but have been meeting every two weeks since January. According to Burton, the entire event is volunteer based, and there would not be a festival without the tremendous support and willing effort of approximately 220 volunteers.

“There is no such thing as a small part because every part helps,” Laurie Burton said.

Although Burton emphasized the necessity and appreciation of volunteers, she was not the only one. The head chairmen of the event, John Turner, noticed the passion from each person who volunteers in CDAF is what truly impacts him.

“It’s just really neat to be involved with a bunch of people who are passionate about something and pull together in the end because they want and choose to, not because they have to,” Turner said as she sips her free beer that each volunteer was allowed under the VIP area in the middle of CADF. “They work their tails off, and they do something really cool. It’s fun to be part of a team that is selfless, giving and community oriented.” 

Both Burton and Turner said they hope their family -oriented team provides such a smooth running experience that people look forward to coming back the next year.

“I hope that when they leave that they have a great feeling about Starkville, have a positive experience and that it’s something that they look forward to in the back of their minds,” Turner said. “I hope they think they can’t wait to come back next year.” 

Roughly 40,000 people attended and participated throughout the event. At the end of the day, the team’s goals were met as some attendees said they already planned on attending the following year.

Mississippi State University criminology major Jamie Edwards said, “My favorite part is the atmosphere. I’m not usually one for big crowds, but being there, seeing all the handmade art and eating good food with a bunch of nice people everywhere makes it really enjoyable. I think the festival is another reason to love Starkville, and I’m already looking forward to it for next year.”

This event may be over, but SAAC hosts events year round for the community to partake in, including Art in the Park this summer, which Burton is currently working towards, and Carol McReynolds-Davis Exhibition from April 18 through May 2. To get involved with SAAC, go to the Greater Development or visit their website at

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Cotton District Art Festival continues its annual success