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Pierce City Arts Festival: Southern Missouri’s Top Art Celebration

Take a short 10-minute car ride west from Monett, Missouri, and you’ll find yourself in Pierce City. Pierce City is a calm, relaxing,  and scenic community of roughly 1,200 people, and the ideal destination for your next Midwest getaway. The history of Pierce City dates back to 1870 when the South Pacific Railroad laid track and began to establish stops in the area. Pierce City was one of the early towns established along the railway and was named after the director of the South Pacific Railroad, Andrew Peirce, Jr. The town's name started out being spelled the same as the director’s name, but due to confusion at the post office the spelling was changed in the 1930’s. Pierce City currently has a population of roughly 1,300 people and is home to some great things to do and events like the Pierce City Arts Festival.


For almost a decade, the Pierce City Arts Festival has attracted people from all over Missouri and the surrounding region for a unique art event. This all ages festival is held at the scenic Pierce City Park, located right in town. With over 30 different booths featuring artists from all disciplines, you’ll be treated to unique handmade art that you won't find anywhere else. Aside from the booths, there will be free demonstrations and workshops, which can introduce you to new areas of creativity. If you're going to attend with your kids, there will be some great activities and games for them to enjoy. Food, refreshments and treats will be available for purchase at the various food vendors. For a fun art themed experience, look no further than the Pierce City Arts Festival. got the chance to interview Kristin Nama, Vice President of the Pierce City Arts Council, to talk about this unique festival.


RAL: Tell me a little bit about the festival.

KN: The 8th Annual Pierce City Arts Festival is a fine arts festival held in the Pierce City Park. The first Pierce City Arts Festival was held on the streets around the bandstand in downtown in 2009. The annual arts event is now held on the cool grass of Pierce City Park (aka South Park).


RAL: How many annual participants do you draw?

KN: We usually have 30-40 booths with various artists such as painters, potters, jewelry artists, wood turners, and more. Food vendors are available onsite and a wine garden, separated by fencing from the rest of the festival, allows wine tasting of Missouri vintners. Many of the booths have more than one artist showing their work, so 30 booths usually translates into more than 30 individual artists. This year we have a kettle corn vendor, the Arts Council booth with bratwurst and hot dogs, chips, soft drinks, and homemade root beer at the Brian's Root Beer tent. The number and type of food vendors varies from year to year.


RAL: What is the typical demographic makeup of the event?

KN: All sorts of people enjoy the arts festival. We attract lots of local families with free kids activities like chalk drawing and our Pierce City Arts Council (PCAC) Kids & Teens Art Booth. It used to be called "junque art", but some people found that confusing. Kids are invited to make their own a robot, or other sculpture using recycled materials. The PCAC collects items throughout the year for the booth, including soda bottles, pipe cleaners, buttons, hair rollers, leftover lanyards, and many other colorful items that kids can use to create a work of art. Youngsters are also welcome to attend the free art workshops if they are accompanied by an adult.


RAL: What makes this event unique?

KN: PCAC’s President and the founder of the festival, Becky Golubski, is an artist herself. She began with a focus on pastel pet portraits and now does a variety of subjects in several different mediums. When she founded the Pierce City Arts Council, it was because she had grown tired of having to drive to other towns, and all over the state of Missouri, to exhibit her art at festivals and events.


A variety of absolutely free art workshops led by professional artists is a feature uncommon to many art events. Returning this year, a chainsaw artist lends a unique feel to the festival. You can see and hear him carving a work of art on the spot. This year he will carve an eagle during the festival in honor of our Pierce City public school's mascot, the Pierce City Eagle.


RAL: Take me through a day at the event.

KN: Drive into Pierce City Park (aka South Park) just as it opens at 9:00 am, or at any time before closing (4:00 pm) and you’ll be directed by a volunteer to a free parking space on the lawn. Out of the car (or off your bicycle, as some festival patrons choose to arrive) you’ll take a very short walk over to the festival booths and pavilions. There is no admission fee so you can stroll right in and begin browsing the rows of vendors. Stop by the information table and pick up a Schedule of Events, and make sure to check out details on the six free art workshops offered at this year's festival. Free kids activities, including chalk drawing and the PCAC Kids & Teens Art Booth, are  available all day. You can also head to Brian's Root Beer tent between 1:00 pm and 2:00 pm for one free root beer float!


The Schedule of Events will tell you when to be at the main pavilion for your free art workshop. Most run about an hour long and all materials are provided. This year you can choose to indulge an interest in jewelry at "Basics in Jewelry Making" with Kristin Girard from Joplin. Each workshop participant will make a set of earrings and a bracelet. Kristin's passion for making jewelry has led her to voluntarily teach those who need to do community service, such as at the Watered Gardens in Joplin. (Keep in mind that there are only 15 spaces available.) This year you will also find Caleb Miller of the Caleb Miller Experience performing live music throughout the day.


RAL: What will people find for dining options?

KN: At some point the lure of a bratwurst or hot dogs and chips may reel you into the smaller pavilion, where you can grab your meal along with a soft drink or bottled water. Perhaps you’ll feel like finding the kettle corn vendor for dessert! If you feel like drinking a beer with your brat, it’s available inside the wine garden for $3 a bottle. Several varieties will be offered, all donated by our local beverage shop, Mazoo. If you are curious about different wines sold by the Missouri vintner, Ketoi Winery, you can buy a souvenir wine glass for $7 to sample wines at their booth as long as you like. Take a bottle or two home with you ( bottles will be available for purchase in the wine garden). New to the wine garden will be 22-inch tall chess pieces turned from Walnut and Oak by Ed Golubski, PCAC volunteer and husband of festival founder, Becky Golubski.

RAL: What is the overall environment like?

KN: This city park, located along Clear Creek behind St. Mary's Catholic Church, is beautifully green for our May festivals. There is a large pond where you may see some resident geese, although they usually leave for the day after complaining loudly to early arrivals about intruding on their accustomed space.

RAL: What can an attendee expect to find for local lodging?

KN: Lodging is available at two Monett motels, about six miles down the highway from Pierce City. A little further away, in Marionville, attendees can find the White Squirrel Hollow Bed & Breakfast. A 30-minute scenic drive to Mt. Vernon will afford visitors the option of the Center Street Suites Bed & Breakfast or the historic McCanse House Bed & Breakfast.


RAL: What does this event mean to the community?

The annual Pierce City Arts Festival has become an event that many parents bring their children to year after year. We hear from parents that they appreciate the fun, wholesome, and affordable day our arts festival offers. Expression of creativity and the desire to create art has found an outlet with our kids art booths and free art workshops. Business people and residents alike have observed that it brings people to our town every year.


Visitors patronize our local businesses, visit our attractions, and celebrate their love for Pierce City. This aspect is especially important to our community as a 2003 tornado destroyed much of our downtown, including most of the historic buildings. We have heard many stories from people who used to visit the town before the tornado or even long ago on Sunday drives with their parents..


RAL: Does the event support a special cause in the community?

The Pierce City Arts Council (PCAC) sells its homemade Brian's Root Beer at the arts festival and at a few other events throughout the year. They also give it away, with ice cream provided by the Veterans' Home in Mt. Vernon, to dozens of veterans residing at the home. The homemade root beer was the brainchild of our beloved late council member, Brian Andelin. All proceeds from root beer sales throughout the year go to match funds provided by Brian's family for an annual scholarship.


The Brian Andelin Memorial Pierce City Arts Council Art Scholarship is awarded each year to a local Pierce City student. Eligible scholarship candidates must have participated in PCAC's annual art contest, Draw Pierce City, at least once. The 2016 recipient of the $500 scholarship, Katherine (Katie) Still, won first place as an 11th grader in 2015 and as a 12th grade in 2016, in the Spirit of Pierce City category.


RAL: Why should people come to your event?

KN: You can wrap a memorable day around a love of art or just appreciate a lovely day in the park with friends and family (and with your dogs, if you like). So many people have a passion for new experiences and expressing a creative, artistic light that burns within them. Most art workshops I have looked into are priced beyond the average family's financial means. Come for the art and stay for the fun and friends.

For more information about the Pierce City Arts Festival, please visit their website.