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On March 14, 2018 at an awards ceremony in Clayton, NC,  the Foothills Folk Art Festival won a statewide award from the N.C. Department of Commerce, for Best Downtown Special Event. A panel of judges chose the award winners from dozens of applications submitted from throughout the state; and NC government officials presented the award to Newton Mayor Anne Stedman and Hickory Museum of Art Executive Director Jon Carfagno. The festival's principal organizers, Shannon Johnson, Newton’s Main Street Program coordinator, and Clarissa Starnes, Associate Director of Hickory Museum of Art and the Foothills Folk Art Festival artist contact, were also at the awards ceremony.

The result of a partnership between Hickory Museum of Art and Downtown Newton Development Association, the mission of the Foothills Folk Art Festival is to celebrate and support contemporary folk art locally and regionally, while maximizing the benefits for the artists and to Downtown Newton both economically and culturally. Shannon Johnson says, “Thanks to the the efforts of hundreds of volunteers throughout the year, we [together] are able to bring close to 100 amazing artists to the festival for a day that celebrates folk art. This award from the N.C. Department of Commerce speaks to the quality of the festival, and we are dedicated to to making the festival even better each year.”

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Says Clarissa Starnes about the festival award, "We would like to thank the many hands that went into making last year's event a success, including the artists, participants, sponsors, local businesses, volunteers, staff members, and visitors to the Festival! We look forward to an even bigger, better Festival this October!"