Habart chairs Downtown ArtWay event to honor late mother
By Iva Butler | (email@example.com)
For Amy Habart, chairing the Downtown ArtWay portion of the Foothills Fall Festival is a family tradition.
Her late mother, Pam Howard, was on the original committee that formed the festival and served as the original arts and crafts chair until 2005. Howard died of ovarian cancer in October of that year just before the festival. Carolyn Forster then took over as chair.
Habart moved back to Maryville in 2008 and took over as ArtWay chair in 2010.
When she and husband Adam Habart got married 10 years ago, “we had to plan our wedding around the festival,” she said. “My husband didn’t believe that, but my mother was chair. Now we plan our vacations around the festival.”
Adam Habart got laid off in 2011 and the family relocated to Johnson City, but Habart remains chair for her third year as a tribute to her mother.
“I drive in at least once a month for committee meetings. I would not be doing that except it was so important for my mother,” Habart said. “She was very proud of Maryville for doing the festival.”
Regional juried show
Habart expects 20,000 to 25,000 people to come through ArtWay this weekend. The weather is expected to be wonderful, which plays a big part in how many attend. People buy tickets in advance for the concerts, but ArtWay and Adventure Land are free. There is a small chance of rain today and temperatures are expected to be in the 70s.
“Arts and crafts aren’t what they used to be. Homemade items have gone down in popularity, but we still have a juried show that people have to apply to enter,” she said. “Our festival is more regional than local, although it started out local.”
This year they went to a new system called ZAPP which let people register digitally. This allowed the ArtWay to advertise for vendors nationwide.
They have people registered from Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia, but most are from Tennessee.
Habart said Chilhowee Area Resorts Ministries (CHARM) is a big help to the vendors,
CHARM is a religious group that will be in its 10th year volunteering at ArtWay. Members help vendors set up their tents, watch booths when vendors who are alone need to go to the restroom and provide snacks for the vendors. Some vendors say that is why they come to our festival because they don’t get that service other places, she said.
12 new vendors
There are 96 booths this year, up from 84 last year.
“We have new vendors this year who are incredible,” Habart said, including photographers and potters. “They are crossing over to include high-quality art, as well as everyday items that you use.”
“Some people want things that are affordable. People can get bracelets for $10, which is a tremendous price, but you can also get items made of silver and gold,” she said.
There will be three vendors offering soap and skin care products that are 100 percent organic. They will have sheep’s milk soaps and organic laundry detergent that is made from all natural products for people with allergies.
Many jewelers and other vendors are also working with recycled materials.
This year there will also be a display of antique farm tractors.
Last year the free bus that runs from Foothills Mall started dropping people off at ArtWay, not just at Adventure Land and the concert entrance. That had a huge impact on the size of their crowds, Habart said.