• John McGary, Woodford Sun Staff

Francisco’s Farm to feature a variety of artists

“HIGHWAY 75” is one of the works of art by former UK basketball player Lavon Williams, who’s one of four featured artists who’ll be showing their work at the 14th annual Francisco’s Farm Arts Festival at Midway University May 20 and 21. (Photo submitted)

Among the highlights of the 14th annual Francisco’s Farm Arts Festival on May 20 and 21 will be wood carvings by a man better known by most Kentuckians for his work on another type of hardwood. Lavon Williams scored 726 points and pulled down 501 rebounds during his four years at the University of Kentucky and was a fifth-round NBA draft choice in 1980. After a few years playing professionally overseas, the 6’6” Williams put his oversized hands to work in a family tradition: woodcarving. According to an article on the website www.brutforce.com, Williams’s half-brother, David, carved some of the toys Lavon played with as a child, while a great-uncle created pastoral scenes with wood. Williams’s artwork has been featured throughout much of the country, and at Francisco’s Farm, which takes place on the campus of Midway University, he and other artists will show their work – and how they do it. According to festival organizer Ellen Gregory, other featured artists include folk artist Jo Ann Butts, Chinese paper cutter Lou Hii, and Berea-based broom-maker Justin Burton. They’ll be joined by more than 80 other artists and food vendors on Saturday, May 20, between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. and Sunday, May 21, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. “The artists really enjoy it, visitors enjoy it, they’re in the central lawn of campus. The booths are on the grass, so that kind of leaves the network of sidewalks for people to walk along and shop and enjoy the festival,” Gregory said. The festival is sponsored by Midway Renaissance, Inc., which uses the $5 parking fee (good for both days) to pay for the next year’s promotional and other expenses. Gregory said other types of art include acrylic and watercolor paintings, mixed media, photography, cloth and wood. A wide variety of live music from local artists will provide the soundtrack for the weekend’s events, to which “well-behaved dogs on a leash” are welcome. Gregory said food offerings will range from barbeque to international fare like gyros and street tacos, along with the “infamous kettle corn ladies of Midway.” The Lexington-based West Sixth Brewery will be selling their beverages there, too. Francisco’s Farm is named for Col. John Francisco, who owned the property on which the city of Midway and Midway University now stand. According to www.franciscosfarm.org, in 1835, Francisco sold his farm to the Lexington and Ohio Railroad. “The L&O planned and built Midway, Kentucky’s first railroad town, so named because it is halfway between Lexington and Frankfort …” In 2004, the festival premiered on the campus of Midway College (now Midway University), and after taking place at Equus Run Winery from 2011 to 2013, the festival returned to the campus. “It is a wonderful event. I believe this year we have artists from 14, 15 states, and we have a network of volunteers. They’ll show up and start working on Friday, when we help move the artists in, and be here throughout the festival and then on Sunday,” Gregory said. “We have lots of fun with the volunteers. You get to meet your neighbors and have lots of fun working hard for a few days.” Gregory said Midway Renaissance has a committee of volunteers who meet year-round to plan the festival. Asked why they and the others put in so many unpaid hours, Gregory laughed and said, “The fact that we’re all just crazy volunteers.”

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