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ArtsAlive! draws thousands to Old Town
By Geoff Belcher
Mar 25, 2014, 19:10

A crowd gathers Saturday outside the historic Hancock County Courthouse in downtown Bay St. Louis to watch actors from the Bay St. Louis Little Theatre perform a live recreation of the classic Edward Hopper painting "Nighthawks" during the ArtsAlive! celebration.

Old Town Bay St. Louis on Saturday lived up to its dual reputation as an art colony and "The Coolest Small Town in the South," with the ArtsAlive! festival.
The Arts, Hancock County has hosted the ArtsAlive! annually since 2004, but this year turned its signature event – previously a low-key tour of artists' studios – into "A Festival of Art, Music, Literature, Cuisine and Theater in Old Town Bay St. Louis.”
"It was just way more successful than we even hoped it would be," Cynthia Mahner, president of The Arts, Hancock County, said this week.
"The support from the community was overwhelming. I think it was a great success, and we really appreciated everybody's support. I think everybody who came just had a great time."
This year's ArtsAlive! still offered an "Artists Showcase," with 57 local talents displaying their work, but everything was centered in Old Town, rather than spread out across Hancock County. Eighteen of those artists also spent time teaching participants their respective crafts, including fiction writing, painting in various media, pottery techniques and more.
The 2014 event also differed in that it offered several artistic contests.
"Think of it as sort of an 'American Idol' for the arts," Mahner said.
The competitions included art contests for middle and high school students; aspiring writers contests at Bay Books; singer-songwriter contests at the Mockingbird Café; and a culinary contest at the Starfish Café.
"This has just been a wonderful event," artist Kathleen Johnson, proprietor of Backwater Studio, said Saturday. Johnson was displaying her work outside Social Chair at Main and Second streets.
Johnson said the event drew in Hancock natives and out-of-towners alike.
"This is the greatest day ever," Lonnie Falgout, councilman for the Bay's Ward Six, said Saturday. "The Arts folks should really be proud of themselves."
Contest winners include:
• From the Literary Showcase - the Aspiring Writers Contest Elementary School Winners
- 1st- Ashley Rester - $100, prize sponsored by SouthGroup Insurance Services.
- 2nd- Henry Williams - $50, prize sponsored by Steve Haas, Gardner Realtors.
- 3rd tie - Peyton Laurent (picture) - $25 prize sponsored by AdLib Communications.
Ava McArthur (non picture) - $25 prize sponsored by Bay Books.
• ArtsAlive! Literary Showcase Aspiring Writers Middle School winners 
Middle School -
- 1st -Hayden Matheson - $100 prize sponsored by SouthGroup Insurance Services.
- 2nd - Samantha Broussard - $50 prize sponsored by Blue Rose Estate Sales.
- 3rd - Katherine Farnan - $25 prize sponsored by AdLib Communication.
• Literary Showcase Aspiring Writers – High School 
- 1st - Hunter Brennan- $100 sponsored by AdLib Communications.
- 2nd - Taylor Henry - $50 Sponsored by the French Potager.
- 3rd - Adia Suter - $25 prize sponsored by Century Hall.
• Literary Showcase, Flash Fiction
- 1st -Steve Hoffmann - $250 prize sponsored by the Gulf Coast Writer's Association.
- 2nd Linda Allen- Sponsored by Dr. Phil Levin, Doctor's Dreams.
- 3rd - Katrina Byrd - Sponsored by Al Saucier, Kiln Moonshine.
• "Southern Sweets" Culinary Contest
- Marilyn Arceneaux, 1st and Peoples Choice - First Prize $250 sponsored by the Silver Slipper Casino
- Joe Williams, Second Place  $100, prize sponsored by Carroll House Bed and Breakfast
- Hannah Roberts, 3rd - $50 prize sponsored by the Starfish Cafe.
- Marcia Butler, honorable mention.
• Singer-Songwriter competition:
- Ruby Ross, 1st place, $250 prize sponsored by Jaubert Architecture.
- Judith Beyer, 2nd - $100 prize sponsored by Landmark Title & Escrow.
- Joe Williams, 3rd - $50 prize sponsored by Artists Studio.
- Tabitha Eyrn, Honorable Mention.
• Student Art Exhibition, High School
- $125 First Place, Holly McKenzie, Hancock High School -- prize sponsored by Mayor Les Fillingame.
- $50 Second Place, Kim Cooley, Hancock High School -- prize sponsored by the Old Town Merchants Assoc.
- $25 Third Place, Elora Pierce, home-schooled – prize sponsored by Century Hall.
• Student Art Exhibition, Middle School
- First Place, Grace Powell, Bay-Waveland Middle School.
- Second Place, Mirabella Miller, home-schooled.
- Third Place, Marion Pohl, Bay-Waveland Middle School.
- Honorable Mention, Allye Peterson, hannah Crawford and Abigail Garman.


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