- story by Ana Balka
Prepare to flaunt both of your inner divas — Country AND Western! — during a themed Second Saturday Artwalk in Old Town Bay St. Louis on January 9. “Dolly Should,” a festival celebrating the great Dolly Parton’s 70th birthday, has been organized by Smith & Lens Gallery, 106 South Second Street.
The day’s events include a 5k costumed Run, a Dolly themed art show, hay rides, a petting zoo, pie-tasting and edible sculpture contests, live bluegrass music and the day’s finale, a Dolly Look-Alike Contest.
Talk of the Town
Samples of the Art Show at Smith & Lens
- Pull on your most impressive wig and your snuggest western shirt. Then apply makeup liberally and strut down to the Washington Street pier at 4 p.m. for BSL Icy Pint Athletic Association’s (non-timed) Books, Boots and Boobs 5K Costume Run. Proceeds benefit the Library Foundation of Hancock County on behalf of the Dolly Parton Imagination Library. See more info and register here.
- Afterwards, keep your shirt on because the Dolly look-alike contest happens at Smith & Lens at 7:30, and organizers strongly encourage both women and men to unleash the Dolly within! Judges include writer Kyle Tibbs Jones of the Bitter Southerner, Tales of the Cocktail founder Ann Tuennerman, and Bay Town Inn owner Nikki Moon, with prizes including $25, $50 and $100 gift certificates from Bella Mar boutique in the Bay Town Emporium and swag bags from Smith & Lens.
- The Bay St. Louis Rotary Club and Social Chair gift shop are sponsoring a Dolly Parton Edible Sculpture Contest to raise awareness for Dolly’s Imagination Library, with $200 in prizes for winners. Bring entries to Social Chair, 201 Main Street, by noon for judging at 2 p.m. For registration and more information see the Social Chair’s Facebook page.
- Square Dancing at George’s Girls boutique, 108 S. Beach Boulevard. Square Dancing with calling by Dan Wally Baker & Band, 6-7 p.m. All are welcome to join. For more info, see George’s Girls Facebook page.
- Look for temporary lending library boxes near participating businesses around Old Town.
- From 1-6 p.m., the French Potager, 213 Main Street, will host a PETTING ZOO as well as Imagination Station with lots of kids’ activities, including a Pin the Hair on the Dolly game! (Dolly’s wigs from multiple decades will be available for pinning!)
- Carroll HouseB&B, 304 Carroll Avenue and Bay-tique, 125 Main Street, are hosting Hayrides from 3-6 p.m.!
- Flaunt your Dolly lip-syncing skills on the balcony at Bay Emporium (112 South Second Street)!
- There's a pie contest at Gourmet Galley (111C Main Street) with a gift basket valued at $250 as the prize! See details below or go to the Gourmet Galley Facebook page.
Dolly as an inspiration - in more ways than one!
No justification is needed for throwing a party in honor of Dolly Parton, but Dolly’s well-known philanthropy inspired Smith & Lens co-owners Ann Madden and Sandy Maggio when they brainstormed a follow-up to Frida Fest, which brought enthusiastic crowds to the Bay in celebration of Mexican artist Frida Kahlo last July.
The Dollywood Foundation runs Dollywood theme park in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, close to Dolly’s girlhood home. According to its website the park provides over 3000 jobs and hosts more than two million visitors annually. In 1995 the foundation launched the Imagination Library, which gives more than 10 million books to children under the age of five every year in communities across North America and the United Kingdom.
Dolly’s work in literacy and her commitment to giving back to her community were things that Madden, who is a photographer, and silversmith Maggio wanted to promote in Bay St. Louis.
“A big thing that draws us to Dolly is she came from Pigeon Forge, and she has brought so much back to that community,” says Sandy. “Their economy has boomed because of her. She shined a light on them. Plus, she seems game for anything!”
Smith & Lens opened in January 2015 as a venue for Madden and Maggio’s work and as a place for them to curate shows by other regional and nationally known artists. But larger participatory events like Frida Fest and “Surrender” — a mass collaboration in which artists “surrender” an incomplete work and then finish the work of another participant — are events that will go on annually, and which reveal community-building vision that goes beyond commercial aspiration.
“Bringing back to the community is big,” Sandy says. “We strive consciously to bring visibility to the Bay. We want people to know what’s here.”
“We want the community to be a part of it,” she says of Smith & Lens’s events. “We try to be super, super inclusive with everything we do. It’s not always about selling the art; it’s about just being exposed to it.”
And in case you were wondering, Dolly has indeed been notified of the citywide shindig, and is “Interested! As are all of her impersonators,” laughs Ann.
Will she show up?
“There are rumors,” says Sandy.