Miss Libby’s Arts and Crafts Tent steals the show

Mary Pom ClaiborneDowntown, Our Town Arts, Our Town Youth

This year’s Children’s Festival of Reading will be action-packed. With everything from train rides and robots, world-class authors and illustrators, to storybook characters and musicians, there will never be a lull this Saturday, May 21, at World’s Fair Park.


Want to dance with a bigger-than-life puppet? You’re on. Maybe it’s a snake you’d like to pet – there will be one of those, too, under the watchful eye of Zoo Knoxville. A Circus in a Suitcase? Yup. All the fun you can possibly have! But leave it to Miss Libby and her arts and crafts to steal the show.

Known to Fountain Citians for decades as the fun-loving library branch manager, Libby Nelson brings her talents to the entire region when she stocks up her tent at World’s Fair Park. Miss Libby’s Arts & Crafts Tent is set up with more glue sticks, markers, stickers, pompoms and pipe cleaners than a Hobby Lobby. She spends the year collecting coupons so she can pounce on a good deal for craft supplies when the time’s right.

Miss Libby’s Arts and Crafts Tent

Through grit and glitter, she draws a crowd that is sometimes three deep just to glue down some foam shapes on a visor or to create a book-loving octopus. The sky’s the limit with a little imagination, a magic marker and a toilet-paper roll.

This year’s slate of crafts is based on an ocean theme. Crafters will be able to decorate their own fish magnets, sea-creature key chains, stingray visors and even a mermaid mask, to name a few.

Of course, Miss Libby has a philosophy on the power of crafts.

“Arts and crafts are empowering and reassuring because there’s no one perfect way to make a craft,” she says. “It’s unique to them, and no one can take that creativity away. They help develop eye-hand coordination and small motor skills. And of course, they produce lots of non-electric or digital fun.”

It’s no wonder she was named the YWCA’s woman of the year in 2018 for Arts & Education. Nelson has been advising parents, aunts and caregivers for years on how to make books come alive by adopting silly voices, growling, chirping or quacking. And in the arts and crafts tent, she can do anything. Come see her at the festival this Saturday.

The Children’s Festival of Reading will take place from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. this Saturday. The event and Miss Libby’s Arts and Crafts are free.

Mary Pom Claiborne is assistant director for marketing, communications and development for the Knox County Public Library.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *