Attendants at this year’s third annual Festival of Trees gala, sponsored by the Arts Council of Lincoln County, may be shocked to find themselves, family members or childhood friends covering the walls of the old Lincolnton hospital.
A number of black and white photos depicting life in Crouse, Lincolnton and High Shoals during the 1940s and 50s will line portions of the Gamble Drive facility, the former site of Carolinas Medical Center-Lincoln.
While the festival’s primary spectacle, as in years past, will be the more than 60 community-sponsored and decorated trees filling the building’s numerous rooms and hallways, pictures will be the underpublicized hit of this year’s event and a perhaps a surprise to many individuals not anticipating their unique tie to the festival.
The Lincoln County Historical Society, headed by Jason Harpe, compiled all the historical items and information.
“It’s beautiful; it’s inspiring; it strengthens our love of community,” ACLC Director Laurie Bostian said of the exhibit.
She also noted how the photos unite the past and present in a “visually-stimulating” fashion.
Photographed by the late local artist Clyde “Baby Ray” Cornwell, one of the three festival’s photo exhibits, “Snapshots from the Past,” portrays a number of families grouped around their holiday trees in years past.
ACLC Vice President and local artist Kae B. Wright was surprised to see so many men and children wearing military uniforms in the pictures, a true testament to the country’s patriotism. She also discovered a photo of her three young cousins mounted on the wall of another featured festival exhibit.
Fellow ACLC board member and President Deanna Williams-McGinnis also unearthed a family photo — a baby picture of her mother. She recognized the photo after spotting a familiar-framed picture staring at her in the photo’s background — a picture, she said, her grandpa always had displayed inside his house during her childhood years.
The small, photographic clue prompted her to further research the picture.
Photographs featured in the festival’s “Way Back Coffee House,” a room where attendants can sip hot caffeinated drinks or munch tasty treats, stem from the Crouse Community History and Photo Project.
Crouse United Methodist Church commenced the ongoing collaborative earlier this year as a way to document and organize the small town’s history.
Life in the former more-thriving days of the High Shoals community is the focus of a third exhibit, “Christmas in High Shoals.”
Steve Bailey, also a local artist, compiled the pictures, Wright said.
However, photos aren’t the only festival medium this year to showcase Lincoln County history.
A number of historical items are stationed throughout the facility including a more than 100-year-old wagon belonging to Rhodes Corriher Implement Company, Inc., a farm machinery manufacturer in Lincolnton.
A few of former dress designer Alda Crowe’s products will also be on display, Wright said.
The fashionista once operated a popular gown store in the area during the 1960s.
From the Lincoln Animal Hospital and their pet photos decorations to the Red Hat Society’s appropriately adorned red and purple-colored tree, a number of community sponsors have pulled together to make the festival a hit for citizens. The Times-News has sponsored a tree this year with a newspaper-theme designed by Marcia Jordan.
Wright said the festival serves as the ACLC’s primary annual fundraiser, with money benefiting the non-profit organization’s many featured programs.
“Our main goal is to give back to the community,” Williams-McGinnis said.
Event officials have been working since September to bring the much-anticipated, spirited affair to life, Wright said.
Even the most Grinch-like heart will find warmth and joy in the holiday event’s many sights, sounds and smells.
Additional noteworthy festival components include an “Arts & Antique Market” — decorated by employees and clients of UMAR’s Lincolnton branch — where local artisans can showcase handmade goods, and the “North State Hotel Banquet Hall,” named after a former overnight hotspot in western North Carolina, Wright said.
The hall will serve as the main fellowship location for this evening’s preview party, set to run 7-10 p.m., and a place for people to mingle and feast on heavy hors d’oeuvres.
Tickets cost $25 and can be purchased online at artslincolnnc.org.
Set up at 200 Gamble Drive, the festival will continue Saturday (5-9 p.m.) and Sunday (2-5 p.m.) and every weekend of the month through Dec. 22.
A special “Kid’s Pajama Night” featuring a magic show and train ride will be Dec. 20.
For more information or a complete schedule of events, visit artslincolnnc.org, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (704) 732-9044.
“You won’t find many (other) events that bring together as many areas of our community,” Bostian said.