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Alabama arts organization announces new wildlife arts festival

The Kelly Fitzpatrick Memorial Gallery, known to locals as “The Kelly,” recently announced its partnership with the Smoot Harris family and City of Wetumpka to offer a premier wildlife arts festival in downtown Wetumpka this fall. The Wetumpka Wildlife Arts Festival (WEWA) will be a cumulation and celebration of wildlife and field sports through the arts in a new, month-long series in the central Alabama town.

Having experienced unprecedented growth since being featured on HGTV’s “Home Town Takeover,” The Kelly has ramped up its mission of arts cultivation by engaging, inspiring and educating the community and, today hosts hundreds of visitors each week at its Company Street location in the city’s historic business district.

This dynamic wildlife arts festival will offer a series of educational classes, art exhibits, vendors and expert demonstrations by award-winning artisans like Chef Chris Hastings, Sue Key, Dirk Walker, Jim Denney, John David Foote and Wildrose Kennels.

The series celebration will take place intermittently from Sept. 30 to Nov. 17, with its signature day-long event taking place on November 5 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on the banks of the Coosa River. The “Art Gone Wild” exhibition will be displayed at 124 Company Street throughout the duration of the series. The Alabama Wildlife Federation will also provide animal encounters during the festival’s event on November 5.

Belyn Richardson, the organization’s president, explains, “We’re using this momentum to nurture and grow the arts in Wetumpka. With beautiful rivers, lakes and abundant wildlife in Elmore County, as well as the nearby Alabama Nature Center, it only made sense for us to partner with Smoot Harris and the City to bring a top-tier wildlife arts festival to sweet home Alabama. We’re grateful for their enthusiasm and support.”

Bringing together wildlife artists, experts and enthusiasts to an event expected to welcome thousands to the fast-becoming arts destination was also important to Alabama Black Belt Adventures founder and chairman Thomas Harris, whose family has deep roots in the Wetumpka area.

“The goal of the festival series is manifold and includes a desire to benefit the Wetumpka area by helping to increase tourism, impact economic development, expose The Kelly to a wider audience and, hopefully, create an ongoing event for this charming community as it continues to grow into a mecca for the arts.”

To learn more, please visit the organization’s website at thekelly.org.

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