Robin Cleary, director of Keep Kingsport Beautiful, watched as hundreds of families gathered in the shaded areas of Allandale Mansion’s grounds. Tuesday marked her eighth consecutive year organizing the beloved Fun Fest event.
“I think the best part is actually seeing this event happen,” Cleary said.
Not only does the event provide colorful trash barrels that keep Kingsport clean during special events, it provides a great opportunity for families, friends and even professional artists to connect with their community.
“We’ve got folks now who bring their grandkids to the Paint-In, and they painted barrels as kids themselves,” Cleary said.
For four years now, Domtar has sponsored the event by providing trash barrels and a volunteer team. This year’s team included judges, face painters and local engineers who explained to interested kids how paper is made.
Treyana Hughes of Domtar organized the company’s involvement with the event. A new resident of Kingsport, she enjoyed both planning the event and attending it.
“It’s a beautiful day, and seeing the history of it and pairing up with these organizations is great,” Hughes said.
At noon, Domtar’s judges walked through the rows of colorful barrels and chose eight winners.
“I’m so glad I’m not a judge,” Hughes said before announcing the judging. “They all look awesome. Great work.”
Lola Morgan won the under 6 category with a sunny landscape that included paintings of her family members. Allie Fletcher’s undersea scene featuring Festus won the 6-8 category, while Taylor Dougherty’s island paradise won the 9-11 category. Trista Trish’s barrel took the prize in the 12-17 category, and Kaycee Tiff’s vintage-themed scenes won the 18 and over category. With their Sesame Street barrel, the Moles won the family category. Jesse and Ava Richard won the special friends category, and Miranda Jesse won the Terry Light Memorial Award.
Winners each received a medal, a duffel bag of gifts and an invitation to attend the Fun Fest Sponsors Breakfast, where their masterpieces will be displayed.
Four-year-old painter Grace, however, understood that the real prize was attending the event and getting creative. Her barrel had been used last year. It still bore some of the previous painter’s designs, such as a portrait of Festus that she had dubbed “Mr. Sun.”
“It’s just so much fun painting Mr. Sun,” Grace declared, carefully brushing what appeared to be a bushy red beard onto Festus. When asked whether the barrel would be judged, she laughed at the silly question. “We’re just having fun!” she explained.