La Grange ArtsFest
Oldham County festival returns
with new musical sounds
The festival takes place along Main Street in La Grange
LA GRANGE, Ky. (June 2021) – Popular local bluegrass band, Ida Clare, formed in 2012 when Lea Cockrell and Jim Wheatley met at a Bluegrass Jam at La Grange, Ky., Coffee Roasters. The Monday night jam sessions were the perfect place to combine their talents and eventually form a band.
The coffee house is owned by Cockrell and her husband, Chris. “It wasn’t until 2015 when we met Robin, our banjo player, that Ida Clare really got going,” said Wheatley.
A friend had told Wheatley about the weekly bluegrass jam sessions in La Grange after he had just returned to the United States after a stint in the Peace Corps. “I almost didn’t go because, well, I didn’t play bluegrass,” he said.
Wheatley said he met Cockrell and future band member Mark Miller. “I started writing a lot, and Lea helped. We played a few gigs as a trio, but something was missing.” What was missing turned out to be banjo player Robin Thixton.
The first time Wheatley heard Thixton play “Time Traveler” he said, “Robin brought the energy and musical discipline we needed, and Ida Clare was born.” Having never played with bluegrass pickers before, “I was astounded at how talented, accepting, and humble everyone was.”
The four-member band performs a lot of original tunes. Cockrell lives in Oldham County while the rest of the band members live in Jefferson County.
The band Ida Clare is one of three bands scheduled to perform June 5 at La Grange, Ky., ArtsFest.
Wheatley describes their sound as “a bluegrass band with a rock and Americana twist. I think our audiences like our harmonies and our original songs. We have some great fans.”
Ida Clare will be one of three entertainers performing during the annual
La Grange ArtsFest 2021 that is scheduled from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. Saturday, June 5, along the La Grange Historic Main Street District. Ida Clare will perform from 1-3 p.m. on the Walnut Street Stage.
Shoppers will be able to find “a variety of artisans, artisans and craft persons, plus food booths and trucks and entertainment,” said Jody Curry, event coordinator for the popular outdoor event. “The show will be on Main Street, and the street will be closed” for pedestrian traffic only.
Additional entertainment will include Sherry Lynn Garland & Teal Green Apples performing from 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. on the
La Grange Courthouse Lawn. This inspirational and gospel group has performed many times at the La Grange Farmers’ Market & Artisan.
Michael Allen Murphy will close out the entertainment for ArtsFest by performing from 3-5 p.m. on the Walnut Street Stage. He has also played rhythm guitar for the well-known regional band, The Vinyl Kings. The Louisville-based band has been together since 1999 and performs hit songs from the late ’50s to the early ’70s.
Vendors for this event are not just local. Curry said, “We have received applications from other parts of the state and southern Indiana.” Many of the Historic District merchants in La Grange will also participate.
“There will be food trucks and entertainment on Walnut Street,” she said. Attendees need to be aware that trains will still rumble through the downtown area several times during the day.
The Farmer’s Market & Artisan will also be taking place that day, Curry said. “The artisans that are part of the Farmer’s Market will stay open all day as part of ArtsFest.” The Farmer’s Market will be located on the courthouse lawn.
Curry, owner of Mercantile on Main, said she expects to have around 50 vendors this year selling arts and crafts items. “Only vendors selling their hand-created items are accepted in the show,” she said.
“Last year due to COVID-19 we had to postpone ArtsFest, so we combined it with our fall Trackside Market,” said Sandie Fulks, executive director for La Grange Main Street. The combined event took place in September. “But this year we will have two separate events – each with a little bit different flavor.”
The Trackside Market event began in fall 2013 and has been a huge hit with those looking for vintage, antique and re-purposed items. It will be held this year on Sept. 11.
“ArtsFest is all arts and crafts; Trackside Market will also include vintage (25 years or older) vendors, in addition to arts and crafts vendors,” said Curry.
Despite COVID-19 and its restrictions, “we did have ArtsFest on the second Saturday of September last year. We had a wonderful turnout. And the participating vendors were all very pleased with their sales that day. Many are returning this year and excited we are doing two shows,” she said.
All in all, Fulks said that last year’s ArtsFest “was incredible, seeing how much people enjoyed the atmosphere, the variety of vendors and of course, the train. We knew we had to make sure we did this every year. In fact, many vendors and shoppers asked that we do it more often. Many vendors signed up for ArtsFest 2021 at the close of last year’s show.”
She said, “There are so any talents artisans and creators in our area, and this provides a chance to really showcase them and let them market their crafts and creations. We have a majority of last year’s artists coming back this year, and as word of the show has grown, we have many more joining us this year. The shoppers had a great time, the restaurants were full and the artists all had a great day selling their creations.”
Fulks said “the draw of ArtsFest for shoppers and visitors is really the fun of it all. Where else can you spend a day outside on a gorgeous June day enjoying great stores, streets lined with true artists and hand-created items, each one different from the one before, food of all kinds and music? Our last event on Main Street broke out into a dance party in the middle of the street.”
ArtsFest is hosted by La Grange Main Street and sponsored by Mercantile on Main. Organizers ask that CDC guidelines are followed in regard to social distancing and masks.
• For more information, call the La Grange Main Street Program at (502) 269-0126.
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