Panoply Arts Festival is celebrating its 35th anniversary this year. The event was the brainchild of the Junior League of Huntsville.
The Junior League partnered with The Arts Council to coordinate research and planning for the event from 1979 until 1982. The very first Panoply was chaired by Carla King and Virginia Griffith; they also happened to be the ones that came up with the name Panoply.
Every name they came up with had already been used before, so they went to Meriam Webster for help.
Virginia Griffith recalled the two of them sitting at the top of her staircase, thumbing through page after page of the dictionary.
“We sat literally on the top stair of the stairwell in my house on Franklin Street and went through the dictionary," said Griffith. "It took us until we got through to the P’s to come up with anything. When we read the definition of Panoply, which was a magnificent array. We said, well that’s what this is gonna be. It’s going to be a magnificent array of the arts. So, we then began to sell the product under the name Panoply.”
For many years Panoply was held in May, but that changed in the mid-1990’s, when the festival moved to April. Rain has seemed to plague the event year after year, but it remains to be a big success.
35 years later it is bigger and better than ever before.
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