It’ll be a different kind of ground breaking this Sunday at the first annual Victory Festival, with seeds and plants going straight into the freshly tilled and fertile soil of the Victory Garden in Fightin’ville. The ground breaking will kick off the festival, happening a lot adjacent to Gallery 333, just down Olivier Street from the garden that was designed and dedicated to the memory of Lafayette-based artist, social activist, musician and entrepreneur Jillian Johnson.
Following the ground breaking ceremony at 5 p.m., Johnson’s band The Figs will perform a few songs, setting a tone of joyful remembrance and natural harmony for the festival’s proceedings. Also scheduled is a performance by Johanna Divine, a screening of Johnson’s favorite film Coal Miner’s Daughter and a silent arts and crafts auction inside Gallery 333.
The auction features sculpture by Leah Graeff and Kristie Cornell, jewelry by Grayson Caroll along with a show metal sculpture of an elbow cast worn by Johnson for the piece by Chicago-based artist Lauren Carter, an art school chum of Johnson’s. The elbow cast sculpture will be on display only, but a photo still of the item will be available at auction.
Festival organizer Kelly Russo says the hand-made and home-spun nature of the auction honors Johnson’s memory as a doer. The chance to contribute to her memory has prompted several inactive artists to produce work for sale in the auction. That's a testament to Johnson’s legacy of inspiration and creative manifest destiny.
“People just started show up and saying, ‘can I give something?,’” says Russo.
Things have moved well for the Victory Garden in terms of funding, as it has inched closer and closer to its $20,000 goal. At press time the garden’s Civicside campaign had raised just over $10,000. Basic infrastructure work has been completed and installed by landscaper Marcus Descant, of the Urban Naturalist, and is awaiting an urban ecosystem of pomegranate trees, rainbow chard, kale, a perimeter of fresh herbs and walking tunnel crawling with cucumber plants and passion flowers. The project which is overseen by Johnson-founded civic group TownFolk, will provide fresh edibles and beautification for the neighborhood that Johnson called home. Volunteers will install irrigation and lighting on the site Saturday.
Several local and corporate businesses have donated goods to the festival. A donation booth and Square reader equipped “garden guardians” will be available to accept gifts. Proceeds from all sales on site will go to the garden’s funding campaign.
The Victory Garden festival runs this Sunday from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. If you can’t make it, you can still donate to the Victory Garden via Civicside.