Three Rivers Run Through It
Three Rivers Run Through It
A visit to New Orleans almost always includes the French Quarter, often includes the Garden District and sometimes includes a swamp tour. Covington, Louisiana, however, is not as common a destination, unless it is November, and the annual Three Rivers Art Festival is on the calendar.
Celebrating 20 years as one of the region’s largest juried art festivals, the free Three Rivers Art Festival will fill Covington’s downtown streets with 60,000 attendees on Saturday, Nov. 12, and Sunday, Nov. 13, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. A new addition this year, the Artist Party and outdoor concert will take place Saturday night from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. at the Covington Trailhead and will feature Tyler Kinchen and the Right Pieces.
To participate in the juried festival, artists begin to apply in February, and three jurors review those entries until 200 are chosen in June.
“Four hundred to 500 artists apply,” said Sarada Bonnett, the Three Rivers Art Festival event coordinator. Of those selected to participate, she said, “They have to bring only the artwork that is juried in. We try to make sure the quality stays top-notch for our patrons. It’s not just arts and crafts, this is fine art.”
One of those fine artists selected for 2016 is jeweler Michael Eddy, a Covington native, who credits the Three Rivers Art Festival as a starting point in his career: “My very first art show was Three Rivers in 2007. To get in the show right away and not be wait-listed is a big deal. I ended up winning Best of Show, and it led to a lot of opportunities after that. It made me feel like I was going toward a professional artistic career.”
Eddy will be showing his jewelry at this year’s festival. He uses materials like copper, brass and silver and employs a cold connection method to his pieces; instead of soldering the parts, he uses micro-fasteners like bolts and washers, which gives the pieces an industrial feel.
His jewelry is priced between $65 and $200 at the festival, and as an artist/independent businessman, he appreciates the festival’s financial impact. “I do quite a bit of business over the weekend,” said Eddy. “Then I’ll have residual business after the festival with customers buying that weekend and calling after the festival to order more.”
“We do an artist survey at the end of the festival,” said Bonnett. “The survey asks, ‘Did you meet or exceed your goals?’ with goals ranging from $2,000-$10,000. Seventy-five percent of the artists say they meet or exceed their goals. Artists try to come back every year, and I have one artist who has made it in every year for 20 years.”
Bonnett also pointed to the positive economic impact the Three Rivers Festival has on tourism in Covington and St. Tammany Parish. She said, “We bring 60,000 people through in two days, staying at our hotels and eating at our restaurants. People come from Texas, Mississippi and Alabama. The Columbia Street shop owners tell us it’s their best weekend of the whole year. We love being able to give back to the community like that.”
If you can only attend one day of the festival, Bonnett shared, “Saturday is like Mardi Gras – it’s elbow to elbow. Sunday is better if you want a little more space and breathing room.”
The Three Rivers Art Festival is also incredibly family-friendly and has a children’s discovery area. The discovery area offers hands-on art activities like face painting, a graffiti wall, a rotating craft tent and other sponsored tents. There is also a children’s stage with performances by the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra, the New Orleans Opera and a hip-hop workshop with child actor Trace Masters.
For more information on the Three Rivers Art festival, visit the website at threeriversartfestival.com. To learn more about artist Michael Eddy’s work, visit stormeddy.com.
Jennifer Gibson Schecter was once a tourist in New Orleans herself and is now proud to call NOLA home. Prior to New Orleans, she wrote for publications in the Midwest and New York City.