Branching out: Gum Tree Festival expands with more Art, Music

By Sheena Barnett/NEMS Daily Journal



Like its namesake, the GumTree Festival is adding more leaves and branches to the trunk of its operation.
The 41st annual festival will fill Tupelo’s courthouse square with art, music and food, but there’s more of it this year. Lots more of it.
“It’s really exciting. The festival itself is changing, as far as the layout. We’re expanding to Main Street, and we’ll have over 100 artists, which is way more than we usually have,” said festival director Kit Stafford. “We are so excited.”
Artists were able to apply online, so more of them did. They also jumped into new categories like photography.
Artists include painters like Ellie Ali, Adam Hall and John Armistead; jewelry makers Keith Wooten, Obayana Ajanaku and Rebecca Burt; sculptors such as Elayne Goodman, Richard McGehee and Calvin Walton. There are also a host of artists who work in traditional crafts, watercolors, photography, mixed media, glass and clay.
Also new to the festival this year is a Saturday night concert in Fairpark featuring Blue Mountain and Corey Smith.
“We’re a performing and visual arts festival. We thought it would be a wonderful new tradition to celebrate Saturday night, to pull the community out to enjoy music in the downtown area,” Stafford said.
Georgia native and country artist Smith is on the road promoting his new album, “The Broken Record.”
The music line-up for the stage on the square includes salsa, jazz, blues, gospel and more.
This year’s GumTree Festival is much like past festivals, just bigger and with more events.
“It’s a treat for people who want to see something new and different,” Stafford said. “It’s the perfect blend of new and good old familiar faces.”
sheena.barnett@journalinc.com