‘I thought you were coming to have me plan an art show’

Sandy Higgins, Long-Time Arts Booster, Named Maple Leaf Grand Marshal

By John Hacker

Sandy Higgins has been a fixture in the Carthage artist community since the 1970s, when she met artist Bob Tommey and helped him create artCentral.

She helped create the Midwest Gathering of the Artists, an event that brought famous artists to Carthage for 37 years until its final year in 2014; she’s sponsored countless children for art camps and classes; and her home is filled with one-of-a-kind pieces, including originals from famous artists like Tommey and Andy Thomas, and some of the children she sponsored.

Higgins will be honored for her work when she leads the 52nd Annual Maple Leaf Parade around the square and down Grand Avenue as the Maple Leaf grand marshal.

The Maple Leaf Committee named Higgins grand marshal September 4 and told her the very next day before announcing it to the public.

“I thought you were coming to have me plan an art show,” Higgins said with a laugh as Maple Leaf committee co-chairs Alice Chorum and Jeanine Poe gave her the news in her front room.

Higgins, who was recovering from knee-replacement surgery, said, “I just can’t believe this! There are so many more deserving people that I never expected this. I love Carthage, and I love my corner. This is my town.”

Higgins was named Carthage’s Chamber of Commerce Artist of the Year for 2007 and is a recipient of Carthage’s ATHENA Award, an award handed out every year at the Carthage Chamber Banquet to a deserving woman in the community.

Sandy is simply about “all things Carthage,” Chorum said.

“As we do every year, we received so many nominations of such deserving, beloved and respected community members who have made significant contributions to Carthage,” Chorum said. “It’s always a difficult choice but for all the reasons listed in the nominations above, Sandy is the perfect choice this year. We are proud to celebrate and honor her with the title of grand marshal!”

Poe said Higgins will be a fixture, not only leading the Maple Leaf Parade Saturday, October 20, but at the variety of events slated for the week before the parade.

“After the festival, Sandy’s name, along with all of the other past and future grand marshals, will live on the list of recipients forever,” Poe said. “Carthage will forever be better for their contributions.”

Chorum and Poe said the people who nominated Higgins said it all on their forms.

“Sandy Higgins is known in the community for her generosity and kindness,” said one nomination form. “She’s a lifelong proponent of Carthage, its people, and our art community. I can’t imagine a candidate more qualified.”

“Sandy has always been a supporter of the Maple Leaf Festival, artCentral and the Carthage Art community,” said the message on another form. “She always has her yard decorated for Maple Leaf and supports many other worthwhile Carthage events and programs. I believe she would be a very deserving grand marshal.”

“Sandy is a treasure to the Carthage community!” said another form. “She’s spent many years developing, organizing and showcasing the arts in our community. Her contributions guided the success of artCentral and Midwest Gathering of the Artists. She is a lovely inspiration to us all!”

The 52nd Annual Maple Leaf Festival has events running the entire month of October including a 5k run, pageants, a dog show, art and music events, car and tractor shows, and tons more. The Maple Leaf

Parade will be Saturday, October 20, beginning its route on the historic downtown square.

Food, art/craft booths and live entertainment on the square and the annual marching band festival will provide a variety of activity for this year’s attendees. For a full schedule, Maple Leaf Festival brochures are available at the Chamber, 402 South Garrison, and locations throughout the area. Details are also available at www.CarthageMapleLeaf.com.

For more information, contact Mary Jo at the Carthage Chamber of Commerce, 417.358.2373 or

mjlittle@carthagechamber.com.