The Judge Ben Smith Awards will begin Sunday 10/7 at 2:30 pm at the Okefenokee Heritage Center 1460 N. Augusta Ave. The awards will start at 3:00 pm. This awards program includes an opportunity to view the beautiful art from our local area, meet the artists, and have the pieces evaluated by local art judges.

“We are so grateful to feature so many brilliant artists in our area,” Executive Director Elizabeth Simpson said.

This event is free for the entire community, a great art exposure event for the entire family, and will include refreshments. Contact the Okefenokee Heritage Center for more information.


As posted in September 17, 2018

The Okefenokee Heritage Center is proud to host the 42nd annual Judge Ben Smith Art Competition. Contestants can enter 2 pieces in the categories of Painting, Graphic Design, 3-Dimensional, and Photography. This year artists of every age, professional or amateur, are welcome to attend.

Judge Smith, over his long lifetime, was an art teacher, a practicing artist, and a promoter of the arts. The art community that has developed in this region is in a large part due to his work over his lifetime.

Photo: Judge Ben Smith, Waycross, with his piece The Courthouse.

Judge Smith was a lifelong resident of Waycross. He had been drawing since he was six years old. During WWII he flew combat missions in the Eighth Air Force. He later attended Ringling School of Art in Sarasota, Florida. He also studied life and portrait painting under Bill Hendrix at the Island Art Center in St. Simons, Georgia. Later he taught life and portrait painting at the Island Art Center for ten years. For a number of years Judge Smith taught art classes at the Okefenokee Heritage Center in Waycross.

Judge Smith worked in all media- pen and ink, charcoal, oils, watercolors, tempera (casein), and pastels. He won many awards during his artistic career, including two times as “Best of Show Winner” in the Golden Isles Exhibit at St. Simons, second prize in the Sears and Roebuck Traveling Exhibition, and was a winner in the South Coast Annual Exhibition in Sarasota, Florida. His greatest interest in subject matter was painting local scenes, such as the Bluegrass Festival and local landmarks. He also enjoyed doing military paintings of the Civil War and of the Eighth Air Force. Judge Smith also enjoyed painting the abundant wildlife that is found in southeast Georgia.

Entries are due September 29th. Contact the Okefenokee Heritage Center at 912 285 4260 or email okeheritage@gmail.com for contest guidelines.

The Portnow Trilogy

“The Portnow Trilogy” is returning to Waycross at the Okefenokee Heritage Center, produced by Purlie Productions. Written by the well-known Waycrossan Barbara Griffin, who is also its lead actress, the three-part comedic play tells the story of an elderly couple who...

Color Run 2019

Registration for the Color Run is now open! This year's Color Run will raise money for the Youth Art and Drama camp at the Okefenokee Heritage Center, providing scholarships and opportunity for students to learn and grow in our community. The 5k will begin at 8 AM on...

The Steve Bean Youth Art Show UPDATE!

Over 200 people were in attendance for the Steve Bean Youth Art Show Awards at the Okefenokee Heritage Center.  Students were honored for their contributions and creativity.  “Art Education helps students with math and science skills, increases test scores, and...

Christmas in The Cross

December 15th
See over 40 local vendors sharing their arts, crafts, antiques, and more.
Admission is $1.

Disney Sing A Long

Join us Saturday, November 17th from 10 am - 12 pm for a Disney Sing A Long in the Okefenokee Heritage Center Studio.Admission is $5. Kids and grown ups are encouraged to attend, wear costumes, sign up to sing a song, and the let the audience pick a winner by secret...

Yoga class

The Okefenokee Heritage Center is proud to host a yoga class focused on healing. The class is focused on healing and is aimed at women with health issues looking for extra support in a kind and caring environment.As a nurse for 34 years, registered teacher Mary Lewis...