Two amateur artists, Hazel Dickson and Berenice Hinton had an idea years ago that developed into the Nescatunga Arts and Humanities Council. In the spring of 1969, Hazel and Berenice held a “County Fair” of art exhibits on the courthouse lawn. Several weeks preceding the fair, paintings of approximately 50 artists were exhibited in the windows of 58 merchants in Alva.
The event was repeated in 1970. This time it was called an “Art Show”. About 50 artists exhibited at this show. In September 1971, a number of interested local citizens met to discuss the possibility of forming a local humanities council. About 30 very enthusiastic persons immediately voted to form the organization. The group chose the name Nescatunga, an Osage Indian word, meaning Salt Fork since Alva was located on the Salt Fork River. In October 1972 the council became incorporated.
As its first project, the council chose to familiarize the community with the historical background of the Runnymede Hotel. The hotel was originally built in Runnymede, Kansas, in 1889 to house English people sent to the United States to learn farming and ranching. The Runnymede Hotel building was moved across Kansas and Oklahoma prairies and rivers to Alva in 1903. After the Council became active, the members organized a Children’s Art Exhibit and open house at the hotel.
The Nescatunga Arts Festival has taken place each year since 1969. The Coronavirus Pandemic / COVID-19 in 2020 forced the organization to cancel the festival for the first time and has made the committee decide to move the Festival to later in 2021 as well. It will join up with the inaugural Sugar Show.
The purpose of the Arts and Humanities Council is to promote greater knowledge and appreciation of the fine arts and humanities and educational purposes, and especially to act, to coordinate and to encourage cultural activities.