Courthouse lawn becomes arts and crafts bazaar

TUPELO – Rodney Lemonier spent part of Friday afternoon moving bowls and platters from his truck and trailer to a tent.
A potter from Evening Shade, Ark., Lemonier is among about 100 artists and craftsmen taking part in the 2009 Cellular South GumTree Festival, which opens today on the Lee County Courthouse lawn.
“I started coming to the festival when I was just out of college in 1972 or ’73,” said Lemonier, who’d worked up a good sheen of sweat in the afternoon sun. “I have not come every year, but it’s been more often in the past 15 or 20 years.”
Tupelo’s been a favorite stop, he said, because of the people who seek out his tent.
“Now, I’m doing stuff for their children,” he said.
Tom Wilson, an abstract painter from Southaven, brought his daughter, Katie, to help get his tent and art ready.
“She’s a setter-upper, and everything,” said Wilson, a former Tupelo resident who’s making his second appearance at the festival as an artist.
One of Katie Wilson’s jobs was to fetch large sweet teas from McAllister’s Deli. The pair have more help on the way.
“My wife and my other daughters are coming, too,” Wilson said. “It’s a family affair.”
Louis Nappi and Fran Walker, a husband and wife team from Olive Branch, are making their sixth visit to GumTree.
“I’m Oak Pond Pottery and she’s Oak Pond Glass,” Nappi said. “We’re like a double whammy.”
Walker said the name came from “the pond outside our house that has these big, huge oak trees around it.”
Their two tents are set up on an incline, but Nappi was prepared.
“I have an entire box of wood shims just to stabilize things up,” he said. “If I didn’t, we might wash away.”
Amy Nash, public relations specialist with festival sponsor Cellular South, said the forecasts have called for a 50 percent chance of rain today and Sunday, so Nappi’s precautions make good sense.
If you get caught in the rain or just get tired of the sun, Nash invited people to the Cellular South Discover Center on Court Street.
“We’ll have Guitar Hero contests all day,” she said, “and we’ll be giving away prizes.”
Contact M. Scott Morris at (662) 678-1589 or scott.morris@djournal.com.

M. Scott Morris/NEMS Daily Journal