Smithfield Herald

Arts gala returns March 6

This painting of Atkinson Mill, done by 12 Johnston artists, will be for sale at the Arts Gala on Thursday.
This painting of Atkinson Mill, done by 12 Johnston artists, will be for sale at the Arts Gala on Thursday. COURTESY OF JUDY BOYETTE

The Johnston County Arts Council is once again raising money through a night of live music, food and art for sale.

The fifth annual Art and Food Festival Gala is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Thursday, March 6, at the Johnston County Agricultural Center, 2736 N.C. 210, Smithfield. The event raises about $10,000 annually for the Arts Council and is the group’s main fundraiser.

The Arts Council supports a broad range of arts programming in the county. Among other things, it brings artists to Johnston schools, awards grants to community theater groups and helps Johnston artists network.

“It’s a good evening,” executive director Darlene Williford said of the gala. “It gives you a chance to see the talent in Johnston County.”

Tickets are $40 for singles and $75 for couples. Tickets will be available at the door.

The night includes an art show with works from about 40 local artists. Some pieces will be sale; others will be on display only. Attendees can bid during a silent auction of paintings and pottery or enter raffles for other art pieces. The night’s biggest art prize, done by 12 artists, is a painting of Atkinson Mill off of N.C. 42 East.

Judy Boyette is president of the Arts Council and a Johnston artist. She and other artists who meet weekly at the Smithfield Recreation and Aquatics Center painted the Atkinson Mill piece. “[Collaborating], to me, is the best part about it because you get together and everybody’s amazed at how it fits together,” she said. “Everybody has their own style, but somehow it meshes.”

A number of restaurants will be serving food on Thursday, and people can vote on the best. Restaurants include Clayton Steakhouse, Edelweiss Deli and Sherry’s Signature Cheesecakes.

Williford said many Johnston residents are unaware of the great artists and restaurants in the county; the gala gives people a chance to come together and meet the local talent. The arts, she said, “make our county a better place and our citizens better people too.”

Rick Childrey, president of the Smithfield-Selma Greater Area Chamber of Commerce, said the arts are important in attracting companies to Johnston County. Employers, he said, often look at quality of life in an area when deciding where to move.

“It’s another thing that you want to say that our community supports,” Childrey said. “We support recreation; we support good schools; we support art and culture and entertainment.”