Children participate in the Youth Arts Festival's recycled ‘trash dragon’ parade. Photo courtesy of the Friends of Jackson County's Green Energy Park.

From the Friends of the Green Energy Park, shared Sept. 19:

Children participate in the Youth Arts Festival’s recycled ‘trash dragon’ parade. Photo courtesy of the Friends of Jackson County’s Green Energy Park.

DILLSBORO — An estimated thousand children and their parents flocked (Sept. 17) to Jackson County’s Green Energy Park for the fourth annual youth arts festival.

A cooperative effort between Jackson County’s Green Energy Park and Western Carolina University’s School of Art and Design, festival participants engaged in numerous hands-on impromptu art projects and watched as various musical and dance groups performed from throughout the region.

Billy Love, a painter from Sylva who teaches at WCU said “it’s important for young people to be exposed to art as soon as possible.” Julie Boisseau, also of Sylva and one of the glass artists in residence at the GEP said “it’s our way in the community to give back; it’s also essential for kids to get active in the arts.”

Artists gave demonstrations in pottery making, weaving, painting, collage making, and many other art/craft mediums. They gently guided
the children in creating their own works. “I think its neat,” said Alexis Carter of Bryson City. “(M)y sister Caitlyn’s performing with the dance troupe Triple Threat and I can make all this creative stuff to take home and show to my friends.”

Richard Tichich, director of WCUs School of Art and Design, who partnered with the GEP in producing the youth arts festival, said “all of this is a part of our mission—giving young people the tools to create their own vision.” Timm Muth, director of the GEP agreed: “It’s an opportunity for youth and adults to experience together the creation of art firsthand.”

Volunteer Katy Sedgwick, one of the many Friends of the Green Energy Park who assisted Tichich and Muth in making the festival happen, said, “I believe in everything the GEPs about; art, renewable energy, environmental education, and this youth arts festival is an important fun part of passing on this knowledge to the next generation.” Muth agreed saying “I didn’t see a sad face here today.”

The Jackson County Green Energy Park is an award-winning, community-scale landfill gas project located in Dillsboro, N.C. that uses landfill gas and other renewable energy resources to provide fuel for blacksmith forges and foundry, glassblowing studios, and greenhouses. For more information, visit

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Kathleen O'Nan is a contributing reporter to Carolina Public Press.

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