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ChickenStock more than just chickens

by Minden Press-Herald

For 21 years, Cultural Crossroads has provided the children of Webster Parish with their first real art experience.

Every spring, the small arts organization transforms The Farm, their four-acre historic estate into a child’s creative play area. A large tent houses their temporary children’s hands-on museum where creative play and use of imagination are made possible.

ChickenStock started this week for nearly 500 fourth grade students who have been and will be bussed in to spend a day with professional artists. Students from across the parish are provided “Kids Day at The Farm” free of charge thanks to generous contributors who have come to understand and appreciate the value of the arts.

Citizens Bank, Harper Motors and Milebar Hydro Testing of Shreveport are this year’s title sponsors.

Students will complete their first giant mural depicting the lives of the three Thornton sisters who lived in Minden and were honored and celebrated in 2009 as the oldest African American siblings in the world. The completed mural will be displayed to the public on Saturday when The Farm will open to the public.

“Our kids days are strictly for the kids,” Chris Broussard, co-founder and chairman of the week-long experience. “It’s the part of festival week that the public doesn’t get to see. It’s the best part of the week because it is for the kids.”

“Saturday is the day the public gets to come,” Melissa Downer, ChickenStock chairman, said. “Mixing art and agriculture has been a perfect fit for us.”

Artists and arts and crafts vendors will be scattered around the landscaped grounds that include a variety of public art sculptures and square foot garden beds.

The children’s art exhibition will open with the largest exhibit of children’s work in the area. More than 1,000 pieces of art from students K-12 will have been judged earlier in the week with the top 10 and winners on display for Saturday’s event.

The little blue house that has served as a focal point for the property will be open for tours. The little blue house was once the home of Zenobia West, who donated the four acres to the organization some 15 years ago. The home was built during the Great Depression and house many of the original fixtures and features of that era.

“We use the house as a backdrop for storytelling,” Downer explains. “We share that time in our history with the children when people grew what they ate, made what they wore and lived simply.”

Chickens are on tap – live and painted. A petting zoo area will include The Farm’s chickens, Dr. Alan Cameron’s Highland cow and calf, some goats and bunnies.

Live music in the courtyard, great food and more eye candy than imaginable is on tap. Art stations will be set up to entice a variety of age groups to sit down and create anything from painting on canvas, making a crazy hat, weaving a potholder, to printing a fish or watching a style show of altered couture designs by area children.

Admission to Saturday’s event is $3 with all proceeds going to Minden High School’s band instrument project. Gates open at 10 a.m. and close at 5 p.m.

ChickenStock was funded in part this year by the Webster Parish Convention and Visitors Bureau, Shreveport Regional Arts Council, Louisiana Division of the Arts and the Louisiana Office of Culture, Recreation and Tourism.

To learn more about Cultural Crossroads and The Farm, visit them on the web or Facebook.

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