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Franklin Arts Festival delights largest crowd ever at event

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Music and laughter filled the air at Pinkerton Park Saturday as the city of Franklin held its annual Kids Arts Festival of Tennessee.

This year's event was held in March to accommodate more involvement from local teachers and schools, and the date change seem to work as record crowds showed up to learn more about the arts.

Suzanne Carter, with the city of Franklin, said the crowd Saturday was the largest to date for the event.

“It was not as hot as last year and combined with our promotions and changing the date, we had trouble finding enough parking for everyone,” she said.

John Bond and his wife, Caitlyn, of Twine Graphics, donated 400 T-shirts for kids to paint, and they were all gone within the first hour.

“I didn’t prepare for this many kids; this is a good problem to have,” he said. “We love this event and the interaction with the kids.”

The band Lookout! cranked out live music on the events stage, and band manager and mother Tonya Thompson talked about what a great event the arts fest is for kids to showcase their talent.

The local band featured five musicians, all from different high schools, who met through church and the School of Rock located in Franklin. Thompson's son, Blake, is the drummer along with band members Evan Boucher, Tianna Lartz, Jack Nichols and Madison Melnyk.

For 10-year-old Aubrey Marko, the event was a great way to showcase and sell a stuffed animal she makes, which she calls a “stuffy” and describes as an emoji hamster.

“I saw vendors last year selling creative things they made and got the idea to set up my own booth,” said Marko, who attends New Song Christian School in Cool Springs.

Next to her was Finn Webster of Franklin, who showcased her very own hand-made items, including T-shirts, pens, stickers and others, which drew a lot of interest to her booth.

Students and instructors from Middle Tennessee State University and Tennessee Tech were also on hand this year.

MTSU students showed attendees how to operate a printing press, while Tennessee Tech students taught kids “how art and science” interact with each other, also known as STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) learning.

Jeremy Blair, a tech professor of art education, explained the philosophy of STEAM as kids painted with a pendulum swing.

“We teach art and science technology as equals,” he said. “We use physics to paint but treat the subjects as equals."

Tech students also let children paint with an “Artbot,” a battery-powered robot with paint brushes attached. Blair and his students enjoyed the interaction with the kids and they hope to return next year.

Sophie Vincent of Brentwood, a freshman at Franklin Road Academy, played guitar and sang a masterful set, which included a cover of "Ex’s and Oh’s" by Elle King.

“I have been playing and singing since about fourth grade,” Vincent said. “This is a great event, and I look forward to playing next year.”

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