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Instead of fire trucks, classic cars and parade floats, the Liberty Parade, facilitated by Elkland
Art Center, features hundreds of costumed community members marching down Railroad Grade
Road, carrying colorful handmade puppets large and small. Anna Oakes | Watauga Democrat



Originally published: 2013-01-14 09:29:57
Last modified: 2013-01-14 09:29:57

Elkland Art Center hopes to raise $10,000

by Anna Oakes

Todd's Elkland Art Center recently announced a $10,000 fundraising campaign to help sustain the organization in the future.


"We are establishing a solid foundation for the future by focusing on people and place in 2013, specifically administrative staff time and rent," the organization said in a late December newsletter.


Elkland is a nonprofit educational arts organization located in the old Elkland School building in Todd with a mission to build community while making art and to use art as a means to make the world a better place.


Elkland is best known for the annual Liberty Parade, held in Todd in conjunction with the annual Fourth of July holiday. Instead of fire trucks, classic cars and parade floats, the Liberty Parade features hundreds of costumed community members marching down Railroad Grade Road, carrying colorful handmade puppets large and small.


In creating its vibrant and expressive puppets, the organization incorporates as many reused and recycled materials as possible. In addition, Elkland produces puppet shows and documentaries for schools and other groups about environmental and community issues.


Among the fundraisers planned to raise money for Elkland this year are "trash fashion" events and a silent auction of past parade props and artwork.


In 2013, Elkland Art Center, in partnership with HandMade in America, will help three communities in Western North Carolina develop their own community parades, thanks to a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.


Through this "creative placemaking" effort, groups will be "using the arts to draw people into the heart of the community and experience their town in a new way," said Lexie Danner, community arts coordinator for Elkland Art Center.


Danner said Elkland will spend a day or two in Andrews, Old Fort and Marshall "teaching teachers" how to organize volunteers, engage students and teach needed skills.


This year, at the communities' inaugural parades, Elkland will bolster the presence of the fledgling events by sharing their own stockpile of puppets with each procession "to help them get a sense of what is possible," Danner said.


Elkland will also continue an outreach it began with the Hispanic community last year in 2013, Danner said.


"That was just so much fun and so rewarding," she said. "The Hispanic tradition of parade is phenomenal ... the pageantry is so rich."


In addition to programs at area schools, Elkland will facilitate arts workshops and summer camps in Boone, Todd and Ashe County this year.


The organization also needs new skilled and unskilled volunteers, including people capable of assisting with finances, fundraising and marketing.


For more information about Elkland Art Center, visit http://www.elklandartcenter.org. To contribute to Elkland's fundraising campaign, look for the "Donate" link on the website or send donations to Elkland Art Center, 10279 Three Top Road, Todd, NC 28684.