Editor’s Note: Last year, INtown partnered with the freelance writing class at SCAD-Atlanta to create our July issue. This year, students are contributing articles, video and photos for our website and social media portals. Malee Moua live-tweeted from the Dogwood Festival and brings us this review of the weekend.

By Malee S. Moua
SCAD INtown Takeover 2.0

The possibility of rain didn’t stop thousands of mothers, sisters and cousins from packing the trails of Piedmont Park for the annual Dogwood Festival. The breeze wafted the savory smoke from Shane’s Rib Shack into the crowd. I was delightfully overwhelmed by my gastronomic options. Around every corner was the prospect of enjoying a sugary funnel cake. The Deadfields, a local country band, sung to the audience, “dot your t’s and cross your i’s.” There was a lively melody of rich conversation, good music and lots of laughter.

Inside the Friends of Dogwood Pavilion, chefs from some Atlanta’s favorite restaurants showcases their signature dishes. Barrelhouse served up a savory watermelon dish, and it was a new concept for me. The honey basil vinaigrette drizzled over the top balanced out the sweetness of the watermelon. Then – the bacon. It crunched in my mouth, and I got another combination of sweet and salty.

I wasn’t sure how I would get around to all of the vendors, but I tried. As I enjoyed one small plate of food, I was at another table grabbing a new delectable dish. The ladies at Five Napkin Burger finished off their sliders with caramelized onions and a dollop of rosemary aioli sauce. I thanked them and sunk my teeth into the juicy burger. The aioli sauce had the perfect texture: creamy and smooth. It was bursting with flavor, and I wondered if they could add a little more just to satiate my new addiction.

I tagged on to the long line for Morelli’s ice cream. From the choices of ginger lavender, chocolate Guinness and salted caramel, I asked for the salted caramel. The salt was rich and pleasantly strong in the dish, helping to bring out the sweetness of the caramel. I was sad to see the bottom of the cup.

Outside of the pavilion I caught the tail end of Stevie Monce’s performance on the acoustic stage. He did a heartfelt rendition of Damien Rice’s “9 Crimes.” It was true to Rice’s version, but Monce’s voice was sweeter and more subtle.

Along one of the artist market paths, the work of Joyce Stratton caught my eye. The rectangular panels looked lacquered in some spots, and then I noticed strips of paper with Chinese characters. Stratton spoke passionately about her art. It takes about three months for her to create a small piece. She uses paper, ink, charcoal and other mixed media and begins a process of addition and subtraction directly on wood panels.

Waiting in line to get a funnel cake, I started talking with Charisse. She’s lived in the metro area for more than 20 years and has never been to the Dogwood Festival. She said, “I like wandering through the booths and seeing all of the unique artwork. They each have their own story.”

I could attest to that when I met John Booth. I had to talk to him when his large painting of Scrabble pieces immediately entranced me. I had to ask, “Who are your influences?” He replied with, “Man Ray, Kadinsky and Warhol.” I could definitely see the Warhol aspects of his work. There was a compelling painting of man in a suit, but where there should have been a head, it was an iPhone. I was in awe of the hyper-realism in his paintings.

As the day wound down, I was in the mood for something refreshing. King of Pops was down to their last few popsicles. I was relieved when there were still some strawberry lemonade pops left. I found a spot in the middle of the field between the carnival rides. The skyline I know and love was outlined behind me against a soft gray sky. Children ran and played in the grass as I took another bite of my popsicle, savoring the cool morsel of strawberry as it melted in my mouth.

Collin Kelley has been the editor of Atlanta Intown for two decades and has been a journalist and freelance writer for 35 years. He’s also an award-winning poet and novelist.