The Bear Festival's Heritage Sponsor continues to be Billy Roper Folk Art. A famed, self taught North Georgia folk artist, Billy Roper is an important contributor to Bear on the Square and the Georgia Pick & Bow Traditional Music Program. He is best known for his expressive style of painting that combines colorful imagery on the front with handwriting on the back to tell a story or depict an emotion.
Billy was the University of North Georgia's first artist-in-residence. He has worked in paints, wood carving and stone carving, and his art is in collections throughout the United States and in over 30 countries. Billy is also a renowned storyteller, musician and instrument maker, and his art, stories and music proudly reflect his Appalachian and Cherokee heritage.