Fort Mill Times

Art on Main returns to Fort Mill with new museum as presenter

A downtown art event returns this fall, thanks to a group that prides itself on keeping local history in the present.

Fort Mill History Museum will be the presenter for Art on Main, a juried fine art and master craft festival coming Oct. 5. The festival returns after two years off. Regional artists and craftsmen are expected.

“History and art go together,” board member Carol Dixon said. “Just about everything we’re doing here is related to art, or history through art.”

The night prior, The Art of the Knight gala will be one of the final events at Knights Stadium. Proceeds will go to Art on Main and other historic and cultural programs.

The Knights, the Triple-A farm team of the Chicago White Sox, are moving to a new stadium in uptown Charlotte after this season. The stadium, owned by York County, and surrounding property is being sold for business and commercial development.

The history museum, meanwhile isn’t taking the summer off. The museum is halfway through a summer lecture series that began June 6. Catawba Riverkeeper Rick Gaskins visits the museum June 27, and Fort Mill native Ken Dixon discusses “The Contact Man” July 11.

An exhibit on antebellum island plantation clothing also began this month with clothes researched and recreated by Winthrop University grad student Alison Boulton. County historian Michael Scoggins held a book signing and performance last week for his latest work, “The Scotch-Irish Influence on Country Music in the Carolinas: Border Ballads, Fiddle Tunes & Sacred Songs.”

Exhibits change every few months. The museum tries to keep new information on display and new events booked, rather than letting history gather dust.

“You can’t do that,” Dixon said. “You’ve got to keep it going.”

Native Fort Millian Hope Gold moved back to the area with her family a half dozen years ago. She teaches American history and this summer will partner with the museum to offer history camps July 8-12 and July 15-19. Camps will include lessons from the Catawbas to the colonies, Revolution, Civil War and up to the present.

Gold hopes to visit several historical sites about town.

“We want to take history and really just kind of convert it to our roots,” she said.

Board member Tommy Merritt believes, overall, the museum is reaching or surpassing expectations since its opening in December. He recently helped with a fieldtrip that more than 100 local students attended. Merritt manned the old drugstore exhibit, realizing children today have a different idea of “drugstore” than his.

Merritt explained how similar places in town operated in his youth. He believes the museum will become more involved in school activities in the coming year.

“A lot of the stuff they’re learning in history is stuff we’re doing,” Merritt said.

Art on Main is a major focus for the group now, though there always will be something else to share, leaders say.

“There’s something changing all the time,” Merritt said.