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After nearly five years of anticipation, grand opening plans are finally underway for the Chestnut Creek School of the Arts.
A two-day event that includes an impressive black-tie affair and a big parade will be held April 16-17 in downtown Galax.
“This will be big, if not bigger than, any of the street festivals,” said Penny Moseley, associate director for the school.
To kick off the unveiling on the first evening, a Friday, will begin with a black-tie catered event at Chestnut Creek — featuring art exhibits and elegant music filling the first and second floors.
Helen White is scheduled to perform a variety of music, such as swing. Other musicians are being contacted to perform.
At a cost of $40 a ticket, the goal is to have 200 people attend the first evening, said Theresa Lazo, an organizer of the grand opening.
Even though CCSA is expected to be open for classes by Sept. 8 after renovation of the former First National Bank building on North Main Street, the grand opening is being pushed to spring to coincide with the 75th anniversary of the Blue Ridge Parkway and, later, the Galax Old Fiddlers' Convention.
A special exhibit in the lobby will feature a juried collection of art pertaining to the parkway, Moseley said, with $2,500 in prizes to be awarded to artists.
A second-floor exhibit, “Minds Wide Open: Twin County Women in the Arts,” will showcase local female artists of the past that have influenced artists of today.
A colorful parade of the arts will start the festival at noon that Saturday, as mimes, marching bands, dancers, jugglers, street actors, balloon artists and artists of all kinds march down Main Street from the Galax Recreation Center. Politicians are being asked to marshal the parade by riding in vintage cars.
Grayson Street will be closed off for vendors and concerts at the street's outdoor stage. Music will include bluegrass bands, high school bands, the classical chorus Highland Camerata, the Crooked Road Musicians and others.
Artists will perform demonstrations of their craft in each classroom at CCSA throughout the day.
Anyone can bring their art to the gazebo park on Grayson Street for display or for sale, through an arrangement organized by City Gallery.
Also planned are storytellers, a silent auction, kids’ activities and a candlelight ceremony.
For the finale, the school will be draped with fabric and illuminated throughout the week in advance of the unveiling of the building that Saturday.
More performers and activities will be scheduled as organizers meet to plan the big grand opening festival.