A rusty old car carries an icon of the farm life as it makes its way through Fort Mill.
A vintage lifestyle and the charm of downtown Fort Mill were the inspiration for artist Bethany Hadden’s design for this year’s S.C. Strawberry Festival Poster Contest. The winning entry was announced Sunday night.
Hadden placed first in the annual competition with her charm-filled piece. She said she displayed the strawberry in the truck’s bed because she wanted her piece to have an “old-school farmer” feel to it. She drew inspiration from trips to downtown Fort Mill.
“I wanted to pull in Fort Mill and recognize the town,” she said.
The banner plane that flies over the scene is a reminder of Hadden’s roots. A native of Myrtle Beach, Hadden said she saw the planes often. The car ties in Hadden’s love of vintage pieces.
“I like anything rusty and old,” she said. “I’m kind of an antique junkie.”
Hadden said she wants people to see what they want to in the piece.
“I want people to get their own feeling from it and relate to it in their own way,” she said.
Hadden said she first heard of the competition online and decided to enter.
“I like doing local contributions in my artwork,” she said.
Hadden owns My Invisible Ink studio based in Charlotte, where she works on commission pieces and work she takes to local festivals.
“The feeling of selling a piece and someone taking it home and making it their own is amazing,” she said.
This year will be Hadden’s first trip to the Strawberry Festival. “I’m excited about going,” she said.
Hadden studied graphic design and mainly focuses on acrylics on wood canvases she built herself. She also works with paper mache and hand-mixed media.
“I like to experiment with a lot of stuff,” she said.
Art runs in Hadden’s family as her mother was also an artist and her grandfather was a woodcarver.
“As far as I can remember, we were always doing something craft-wise,” she said.
Hadden is hoping to put her first place winnings into helping design a children’s book her husband wrote.
The other finalists included Debbie Whitsett, who came in second, and Katie Koenig, who placed third.
Whitsett said one entry, which featured two girls picking strawberries, represented a time in her own children’s childhood.
“It conveys the innocence of strawberry picking,” she said.
Whitsett’s other entry showed strawberries incorporated into a variety of items, including an apron.
“It makes a statement on simpler times,” she said.
Whitsett, a Fort Mill resident, said the contest gave her an opportunity to “break into the art community of Fort Mill.”
Koenig’s piece featured important Fort Mill landmarks on top of a giant strawberry
“I wanted the feature to be a strawberry, but to remember the importance of Fort Mill,” she said.
Koenig, a Pittsburgh resident, said the contest gave her a chance to get some exposure for her work.
“It’s great exposure,” she said. “I’m so excited to be a finalist.”
The pieces were judged on the festival’s theme, “It’s One Super Berry,” representation of the S.C. Strawberry Festival and how well the piece evokes the feeling of Fort Mill, said Kimberly Starnes, the town’s media coordinator. She said picking a winner was difficult.
“Bethany’s image stood out to us because she managed to represent the festival and evoke a feeling of community by representing the Town of Fort Mill as well,” Starnes said.
Hadden said winning will push her to do more pieces and continue to enter competitions.
“I’ve never won anything like this before,” she said. “It’s exciting to see your stuff in print.”