Pictured above, David (left) and Tina (right) Pendley display unique creations to visitors with their business, Sweet Tea Pottery, at Art on the Rocks.
By Katie Bohannon, News Editor
Gadsden’s annual Art on the Rocks festival returned to Noccalula Falls on September 19 and 20, giving Etowah County residents a beautiful weekend to explore the talented vendors who transform their passions into exceptional pieces of art.
While safety regulations were carefully in place during the event, with visitors social distancing and wearing masks, COVID-19 did not stop vendors and guests from enjoying the return of Art on the Rocks.
Vendors spread out at booths and underneath tents throughout the ticketed portion of Noccalula Park, traveling from near and far to display their artisan crafts and unique merchandise. From hand-crafted candles and soaps to spectacular wood-worked creations and eye-catching paintings, Art on the Rocks carries a bit of everything for every person. Home décor items, pottery and succulents decorated vendor tables, welcoming visitors to discover hidden treasures as they floated from tent to tent.
Gadsden artist Sammy Davis was among the vendors at the Falls, promoting her work and apparel brand, Blue Skies. Blue Skies originated when Davis discovered a lack of originality and variety in women’s aviation clothing. A pilot herself, Davis understands the importance of supporting her fellow female aviators, and sought to create a clothing line that inspires women to succeed in a male-dominated field. Davis joined other talented vendors like Handcrafted Wood Turning’s Dexter Gentle from Hollytree, who transforms wood from a plethora of trees into beautiful bowls, dishes and decorative pieces.
One vendor in particular, Sweet Tea Pottery’s Tina Pendley, played a major role in the resurgence of Art on the Rocks a year ago. While the event flourished at the Falls in the past, the festival dwindled throughout the years until the Gadsden Art Association (and member Pendley) recognized the importance of its impact in Etowah County. Their combined efforts advocated for its return, partnering with Noccalula Falls to reintroduce the festival in 2019. 2020 marks the first year Art on the Rocks became a Gadsden Park and Recreation and Greater Gadsden Area Tourism event.
“This event was started as a dream by Mrs. Frank Stowers,” said Pendley. “She was a part of the Gadsden Woman’s Club. She had a desire to have an outdoor art show after visiting Texas, where art was sold and it was very popular. She wanted to bring that to Gadsden, because there were a lot of artists here.”
Noccalula Falls Supervisor Christina Richardson commended the community for supporting local artists and promoted the event as an opportunity to encourage the talented individuals who participate, while finding one-of-a-kind pieces for themselves.
“We had a great turnout and the event was very successful,” said Richardson. “The weather was perfect, and the vendors loved the event. Many of the vendors have already said they want to return next year, and asked for their same booth space.”