Foothills Folk Art Festival returns to Downtown Newton on May 14

Fifth annual celebration of folk art and artists offers something for everyone

May 5, 2022

Downtown Newton Development Association and Hickory Museum of Art are pleased to present in partnership the fifth annual Foothills Folk Art Festival. The festival will welcome guests from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, May 14, in Downtown Newton, North Carolina.

The Foothills Folk Art Festival is a free, family-friendly celebration influenced by and displaying the spirit of folk, visionary, and outsider art. Thousands of guests are expected to gather around the 1924 Courthouse Square to browse and purchase unique pieces created by more than 75 renowned artists admitted to the festival. In addition to continuing a tradition of supporting folk artists while enhancing the economic and cultural vibrancy of Downtown Newton, the festival will feature interactive art demonstrations, hands-on art and reading activities for children, live music performances on two stages, food trucks selected to complement downtown eateries, and beer gardens stocked with craft, domestic, and imported brews sure to quench your thirst as you explore the award-winning festival.

The festival’s carefully curated roster of juried artists hail from across the American South. Their work is skillfully executed in a wide range of materials, including wood, clay, metals, textiles, beads, paper, and paints, often in mixed-media combinations or in repurposed recycling. The art on display will include pottery mugs, bowls, decorative pieces, jewelry, birdhouses, sculptures, photographs, and paintings on wood, canvas, or metal in a variety of styles.

Streets lined with artists’ booths will resonate with the acoustic shimmer of steel drums and the friendly twangs of plucked banjos during live musical performances scheduled at the Frank & Sue Jones Amphitheatre and the recently completed Yount Park performance space at the corner of Main Avenue and A Street. This year’s lineup includes: Moose & Friends, JB & Joe, Strictly Clean and Decent, Pan Jive, and Red Rocking Chair.

Getting to the festival is a breeze, as guests are welcome to park in any of the hundreds of free, on-street parking spaces and numerous free public parking lots around the event perimeter. Or guests may skip the search for a spot completely by driving to the Catawba County Government Complex at 100 Southwest Blvd. (U.S. 321 Business) and parking on or near the parking deck to catch a free shuttle that will drop off riders in the midst of all the festivities within minutes. Shuttles will run from 10 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. and are ideal for guests traveling in large groups or who will enjoy the festival most by limiting walking distances. DNDA and HMA are grateful to Greenway Public Transportation and Abernethy Laurels for again contributing the drivers and busses that make the complementary service possible.

Designated parking for guests with valid handicapped permits will be available closer to the festival on a first come, first served basis in the parking lot at 217 Main Ave. To access the lot, please present your permit to volunteers wearing bright yellow T-shirts at the barricade on Main Avenue where it intersects with East 3rd Street.

In conjunction with the Foothills Folk Art Festival, Debra Zimmerman has been named the 2022 Folk Artist in the Schools. Zimmerman will spend the Friday before the festival visiting local schoolchildren and leading them in an art-making demonstration.

Downtown Newton Development Association (DNDA) and Hickory Museum of Art (HMA) look forward to reviving the Foothills Folk Art Festival on May 14 after postponing events scheduled for 2020 and 2021 in consideration of public health. All parts of this year’s festival are planned for well-ventilated outdoor spaces, additional handwashing stations with soap and running water will installed, and face coverings will be available by request at information booths throughout the festival. Everyone is asked to respect the personal space of anyone wearing a face covering and to support any request from artists and/or festival organizers to prevent crowding within booths.

Complete information about the festival — including a list of artists and representative photos of the art they plan to bring to the festival, a schedule of the day’s musical performances, answers to frequently asked questions, and opportunities to volunteer and sponsor — may be found at Have up-to-date festival information delivered straight to your news feed by liking and following the Foothills Folk Art Festival on Facebook at 

The Foothills Folk Art Festival’s roots date to 2005, when HMA acquired 153 folk art objects from Barry and Allen Huffman of Hickory. Since acquiring the Huffman collection, HMA has showcased contemporary Southern folk art through a variety of exhibits, public programs and special events. The museum also has an ongoing exhibition of folk art, Discover Folk Art: Unique Visions by Southern Self-Taught Artists, located on the third floor. The museum, located at 243 Third Ave. NE, Hickory, is open Tuesday through Sunday, and admission is free. Shoppers can also purchase unique folk art in the museum store, shopHMA. For more information about Hickory Museum of Art, visit the museum’s website at

Following the relocation of the festival from Sherrills Ford to Downtown Newton in 2016 upon the formation of the ongoing partnership between DNDA and HMA, the Foothills Folk Art Festival has been recognized as North Carolina Department of Commerce’s Best Downtown Special Event and Hickory Daily Record’s Festival of the Year. Presenters are proud to continue to build the event’s reputation as one of the finest annual celebrations of contemporary folk art and artists in the United States.

Moving forward, DNDA and HMA plan to present the festival on the second Saturday of May each year.

“We are so excited to partner again with Downtown Newton Development Association in presenting the Foothills Folk Art Festival,” said Jon Carfagno, Executive Director of Hickory Museum of Art. “The event represents so vibrantly the museum’s vision To Bring People Together and Inspire Creativity through the Power of Art. Our partnership with Downtown Newton Development Association brings so many artists and visitors to Downtown Newton, and we are looking forward to seeing them all on May 14.”

“The Foothills Folk Art Festival is made possible thanks to scores of volunteers who donate their time and talents as we work together to build something new in Downtown Newton,” said Mary Yount, director of Downtown Newton Development Association and Newton’s Main Street Program. “We are fortunate to continue the partnership with Hickory Museum of Art that allows us to bring incredible artists from throughout the Southeast to Downtown Newton every year, and we are grateful for merchants and property owners who continue to support the festival and welcome the thousands of guests it brings to our community.”

DNDA and HMA are deeply grateful to the sponsors whose support makes the festival possible and supports the mission of each organization. Producing Sponsors include Catawba Valley Community College, The Trott House Inn, and the City of Newton. Supporting Sponsors include Cargo Transporters, Renwood Mills, Sarstedt, and the United Arts Council of Catawba County. Festival donors include Alex Lee Inc., Bassett Furniture, CommScope, ElectriCities of North Carolina, McCreary Modern Inc., Peoples Bank, Steve White Motors, and Shurtape Technologies.