GumTree Festival Time

By M. Scott Morris/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – Painter Ronald Lewis left some troubles at home so he could attend the 40th GumTree Festival.
He’s a resident of Altadena, Ala., a town near Birmingham that was hit by the same storms that tore through Mississippi last week. A tree fell on his home.
“I did a festival last week. I did one day of it. I did it more as a diversion,” Lewis said. “I didn’t have my mind on it. It’s better this week. I have a lot more that’s settled back home.”
He’s one of more than 80 artists who set up their booths on Broadway and Court streets on Friday in preparation for the festival. Booths will open for business at 9:30 a.m. today.
Lewis works in oils and acrylics, and you’ll find paintings inspired by Alabama scenery, as well as views from Germany, Norway and other exotic locales.
“My son-in-law is a logistics officer attached to NATO,” Lewis said, smiling at his good fortune, “so he plans the trips and we go with him.”
Some of the sights Lewis has seen might find their way to your wall.

Team effort
Sitting under a shade tree and eating a ham sandwich, Charles Adams said he’s been coming to GumTree for “30-something years.”
He’s a stained glass artist from Troy, Ala., and said Tupelo’s festival is one of the best he attends.
“It’s all high-quality work,” he said, “and they’ve got good patrons who support the artists.”
Walter Black, also from Troy, creates Raku pottery. His booth is behind Adams’ booth on Broadway Street.
“We travel around to festivals together,” Black said. “Most every one I go to is with Charlie.”
“He can’t afford the gas,” Adams said.
“Yeah,” Black said.

After 20 years in the advertising and public relations business, Lil McKinnon-Hicks decided it was time for a new path.
She’s been a jewelry maker, silversmith and enamelist for the past seven years.
“It’s evolved into full time,” the Jackson resident said. “It’s five days a week in the studio.”
McKinnon-Hicks said that in the past two years, her work reached a level of quality that encouraged her to apply to the GumTree Festival. This is her first time to take part.
“I’ve heard good things about it,” she said. “This is, from what I understand, one of the premiere art festivals in the state.”
After those kind words, remember McKinnon-Hicks used to be in public relations.
Then again, maybe it was the artist in her doing the talking.
“Jewelry doesn’t talk back like clients used to,” she said. “If it did talk back, I’d get out my hammers and torches and take care of it.”

Contact M. Scott Morris at (662) 678-1589 or

■ Today:
– 9:30 a.m. Festival opens

– 10 a.m. Lee County Library, youth stage

– 10:30 a.m. Tupelo Ballet, youth stage

– 11 a.m. Songwriter Showcase, music stage

– 11:30 a.m. Tupelo Middle School’s Splash, youth stage

– Noon Thomas Jackson Orchestra, music stage

– 12:30 p.m. North Mississippi Dance Center and Civic Ballet, youth stage

– 1:15 p.m. George McConnell & Daniel Karlish, music stage

– 1:30 p.m. Tupelo Gymnastics Academy, youth stage

– 2 p.m. Tupelo Twirlers, youth stage

– 2:30 p.m. Tupelo Middle School Dance Team, youth stage

– 2:45 p.m. FoShorchestra, music stage

– 3 p.m. Elite Gymnastics, youth stage

– 4 p.m. Partlow Drummers, youth stage

– 5:30 p.m. Festival closes

■ Sunday:
– 10:30 a.m. Festival opens

– Noon Scott Chism & Better Half, music stage

– 1 p.m. The Embrace, music stage

– 1:30 p.m. Tupelo Ballet, youth stage

– 2 p.m. Tupelo Women’s Glee, youth stage

– 2:30 p.m. Thompson Ward, music stage

– 3 p.m. Tupelo High School’s Structure, music stage

– 4 p.m. Awards presentation

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