by Laura Locke
As an Admissions Counselor, I’m often asked “What is there to do in Henderson?” I suppose prospective students have heard that Henderson is a small town and worry that they’ll be bored out of their minds. As someone who grew up in Austin, TX, and knows what larger cities routinely offer, I can assure you that Henderson is far from boring. Living here has been different from living in “the city,” but I’ve come to love the charms of life in a small college town.
When I first arrived at FHU I spent most of my time on campus, rarely venturing past Henderson’s Main Street. Like many students, I found that campus events and friends kept me busy most nights. As I became more attached to my new home, and especially as I became more involved in a local church, however, I found myself exploring my community and discovering some of the hidden treasures of Henderson, TN. Over the next few weeks I’ll highlight some of the events, restaurants, and hangouts that I love about my new hometown.
Arts in the Alley
For a small town, Henderson has a remarkably active Arts Commission. It hosts a variety of festivals, events, and competitions throughout the year, but my favorite is Arts in the Alley, a monthly (during warm weather) showcase of local art, craft, and music talent.
First off, the location is amazingly cool. As the name suggests, Arts in the Alley takes place in an alley… of sorts. If you’re thinking the dingy, wet, scary alley of movies, you have the wrong image—this alley is quite spacious and opens up onto a sort of common square, with plenty of room for browsing and mingling. Local artists and crafters set up booths displaying their wares, everything from watercolor paintings to stained glass to jewelry, bags, and hair accessories. The Henderson Arts Commission usually invites local musicians to provide entertainment, and others are involved by grilling chicken, burgers, and hot dogs. Children and pets run amok, and the whole atmosphere is friendly and festive.
The most recent Arts in the Alley featured a sing-off. Dozens of local singers and bands competed for cash prizes. The winner was determined by the crowd, who voted by placing cash into tip jars for each performer. All “tips” help to fund future Henderson Arts Commission events. This year, Freed-Hardeman’s own Main Street Fuzion, a student-run a cappella group, placed third in the competition.
Arts in the Alley is a great place to connect with the residents of Henderson, eat some terrific food, enjoy live music, and shop for arts and crafts (which make fabulous birthday or Christmas gifts) made by local artists. It’s the sort of small, community-led activity that has helped make Henderson feel like home.