Three Rivers Arts Festival expected to draw large crowds to Covington | St. Tammany Community News
Covington’s Three Rivers Art Festival kicks off Nov. 12 in five blocks downtown.
The Three Rivers event began in 1997 when its founders, after visiting an arts festival in Fairhope, Alabama, decided that Covington needed its own festival to help artists and support downtown economic development.
As a result, and after steady growth, over 500 artists from around the world are now submitting their pieces to be considered for acceptance into the festival. The 200 artists who participate each year then travel from near and far to exhibit and sell their art at the Three Rivers Festival in Covington.
Three Rivers isn’t your typical Louisiana festival because, despite featuring plenty of regional artists, it’s not a local show.
“Three Rivers is so special because it’s the largest juried show in the area. No one has a booth unless you’re a juror,” said Sarada Bonnett, Director of Arts and Cultural Events of Covington. Juried exhibitions include works of art selected through a competitive process.
“Because we attract artists from all over the United States, you can’t see these artists traveling from show to show. It’s not your typical Louisiana art market.”
One of the founders of the Three Rivers Festival and current exhibiting artist, Keith Villere, will be there again this year to present his work.
Typically known around Covington as the former mayor, Villere found his passion during his political days in turning scrap metal into art.
“After the election I was stressed and would walk into my studio and cut out the shape of an old box. Then I started decorating it and painting it and giving the art away,” said said Villere. “I even asked a friend of mine, ‘Am I embarrassing myself by posting this?’ “
Villere quickly realized that he didn’t mind showing his works in Palmer Park in New Orleans. After quickly realizing that people appreciated his original art, Villere grew and began to offer his art in different festivals.
The first piece created by Villere, fish, inspired the name LA Fish de Villere.
Over the years, Villere has refined his art. His art is still made from scrap tin roofing, but he uses a plasma cutter to refine the edges. Villere’s art has spanned from fish to alligators, flowers, snakes and other creatures and shapes that inspire him.
Alabama native William Colburn, also known as “The Metal Guy”, is another of the artists who exhibit each year at the Three Rivers Festival.
Colburn learned his craft from his artist mother and engineer father. Combining these passions and skills, Colburn began making metal flower sculptures.
When Colburn began his journey to becoming an artist, he started by making furniture. Later, a local TV show invited him for an interview and challenged him to produce an artwork in under 30 minutes.
Colburn decided to make a metal flower for the show. A few days later, there were hundreds of requests for that flower, and Colburn knew he was onto something.
“When you walk down the street, you don’t notice the beauty of a daisy,” Colburn said. “But if you come across a 15-foot daisy sculpture, you notice the beauty and whimsical nature of the flower.”
Colburn’s sculpture ranges from 3 to 10 feet tall; he didn’t even make a commissioned piece over 20 feet tall. When not touring the country showcasing his sculptures, Colburn runs his new venture, Elysian Gardens, a sculpture park in Birmingham, Alabama where Colburn can showcase his work, coupled with a restaurant and bar. .
The Three Rivers Festival isn’t just about ironwork. Many artists will present paintings in various media, pottery and jewelry.
One of them is Terrance Osborne, a Louisiana native, graduate of the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts and Xavier University, who left teaching for full-time art after Hurricane Katrina. He will be a featured artist on Arts Alive. Festival guests will be able to watch Osborne – whose Uptown gallery is named after him – create during the two days of the festival.
Festival crowds can range, cumulatively, from 40,000 to 60,000 visitors for the weekend. Historically, whenever the LSU or Saints football teams play away, the Three Rivers Festival draws large crowds.
Both teams are scheduled to play away this year, and Three Rivers expect big crowds to come out. But festival-goers shouldn’t worry about missing either game. There will be plenty of places for football fans to sit and watch the action while the rest of the family do their shopping.