Artist memorializes Shaggin’ in the Street

Interpretive artist Trahern Cook painted photo during Shaggin’ in the Street. | Photos: Darlene Embleton

WINNSBORO – What started as a commissioned painting to commemorate the Shaggin’ in the Street festival for those attending a Winnsboro High School class reunion, may turn out to be a memento for residents and a souvenir marketing opportunity for The Fairfield County Chamber of Commerce.

For Gail Stevenson Lyles, a member of the Winnsboro High School class of ’73, the class reunion was gearing up to be special this year. It fell on the day after the town’s annual Shaggin’ in the Street festival. Both events are near and dear to Lyles’ heart – after all, her husband, Jamie, plays in the Reunion Bande which would be on stage at the festival again this year. So Lyles wanted to combine the two events for the enjoyment of reunion attendees.

To make it a weekend to remember for her classmates, Lyles commissioned local interpretive artist, Trahern Cook, to capture the moment on canvas as the reunion attendees and others danced the night away in the street in front of the town clock. She planned to auction the painting at the end of the evening to pay Trahern’s $300 fee.

Set up in the middle of the festivities, Cook’s commission turned out to be a major attraction during the evening as he worked at his easel, deftly wielding his brushes in the dark to capture the images of the festival – the clock, the colors and the movement and attitudes of the festival goers as they shagged the night away with abandon.

While the auction was scratched as a sudden rain storm, complete with lightening and strong winds, washed the festival off the streets an hour before it was scheduled to end, Lyles said she was still able to take bids for the completed painting. It was purchased by Michael Talbert and gifted to Patti Estes who titled it, “Shaggin in the ‘boro.”

“I was the lucky recipient of this wonderful painting,” Estes enthused. She said she anticipates it becoming a family heirloom. “I know all three of my children would love to have it because they all grew up in Winnsboro and graduated from Richard Winn Academy.”

For Lyles, it was a night to remember.

“We were excited to see that so many of our classmates attended the festival,” Lyles said. “And the wonderful people of Winnsboro voluntarily chipped in $200 toward the cost to have Trahern join us and create this painting of our beloved home town festival.” Lyles said.

As it turned out, the painting that depicts Winnsboro in all its festive glory is going to have a double life. Plans are in the works for it to be shared by the Fairfield County Chamber of Commerce with the community and visitors to the town.

“We bought the reproduction rights to the painting,” Chamber Director Terry Vickers said.  “And we’re looking forward to reproducing the image on post cards, note cards, posters, cookbooks and even T-shirts that we plan to market,” Vickers said. “Keep an eye out for these great gift ideas coming, we hope, before the holidays. And what great souvenirs for our visitors to take back home with them as reminders of their trip to our town!”

Indeed, the special night Lyles pulled together for her classmates may now live on for years in the Chamber’s marketed items.

“I am so thrilled about the way it all turned out,” Lyles said. “And I can’t wait to see our beautiful Winnsboro festival emblazoned on T-shirts and posters.”

The Fairfield County Chamber of Commerce is making plans to market the image on souvenirs.