Today in Athens, Arkansas….

Like AST, Artsfest is relatively young in Conway but is likewise growing as one of the most valued and valuable festivals Conway is lucky enough to call its own. My own involvement is inspired by remembrance of my grandmother, Lillie Belle Warren, of Morrilton. She believed not only in the necessity of civic involvement but also the empowering potential of the arts to ignite positive change in the community.  Her road, unlike my own, was not easy, and her compatriots were few. You know what they say about well-behaved women and making history and such? Well, Lillie Belle was no shy, wilting flower. Good thing she wasn’t because she had to counter resistance at almost every turn. The historic train depot/museum in Morrilton stands today because she stood in front of the demolition truck. When I meet with the Artsfest committee folks–a dedicated and inspired bunch–I can’t help but bemoan her plight way back when. When I head to downtown Conway this weekend, I’ll keep in mind that Artsfest exists because of the Lillie Belles of our pasts. She knew, as I now know, that being well-behaved is overrated.