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Festival of the Arts this weekend

By Staff | Jan 9, 2014

For nearly three decades, the Cape Coral Festival of the Arts has introduced the public to talented artists and artisans from across the country, while helping to raise money for the community.

The event, now in its 29th year, takes place from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday along Cape Coral Parkway, between Del Prado Boulevard South and Vincennes Boulevard. Hosted by the Rotary Club of Cape Coral, it will feature more than 300 juried exhibitors, competing in several categories.

The festival is free and open to the public, and on-site parking is also available for free.

“It just has been a tremendous success,” John Jacobsen, the event’s organizer, said Thursday.

Last year, an estimated 100,000 people attended the festival.

“I think we’ll have that again this year easily,” he said.

The show features a range of medians, like fine art, sculpture, pottery, jewelry, photography, metal works, mixed media and more. The Best in Show winner will receive $1,000, while first place, second place and third place awards are given in every category. The winners receive $500, $250 or $150.

“If you’re looking for a museum-piece of quality art in the $5,000 to $10,000 range, you’ll find that,” Jacobsen said, adding that attendees can also find prints, jewelry and such in the $5 to $10 range.

“That’s one of the reasons we offer the prize money, so we get a blend (of exhibitors),” he said. “We make sure that we have something for everyone.”

This year’s participating artists and artisans hail from throughout the country, from Arkansas, the Carolinas, Ohio and Wisconsin, to California, New York, Michigan, Oklahoma and more.

“They come from all over,” Jacobsen said, adding that several of the exhibitors are from Florida.

The judge for this year’s show is Henry Sinn, the director of painting and drawing and head gallery curator at the Crealde School of Art in Winter Park. With a bachelor’s degree in painting from Rollins College, Sinn’s work is represented in more than 20 corporate collections and he has had 15 shows.

“We look for credentials and experience at judging outdoor events,” Jacobsen said, adding that the judge should also have a strong background in the arts, such as a professor at an art college.

“We want to make sure everybody is well satisfied with the judge,” he said.

Sinn will judge the exhibitors on Saturday, and the ribbons will be awarded Sunday morning.

Each year, the work of one artist or artisan is selected to be featured on the event poster. “Booted Racket-Tail Hummingbirds,” by photographer Mark J. Thomas, was picked to be showcased.

“The picture happens to be of two rival hummingbirds trying to get to the same flowers,” Jacobsen said. “The picture itself just captivated me.”

Thomas’ work was also selected as a category winner in the annual “Nature’s Best Photography” Windland Smith Rice International Awards Competition, and he beat out 28,000 other photographers to have his hummingbird image appear in the Smithsonian Museum of National History until 2015.

Along with the exhibitors, the festival will feature food and fun for the whole family. An area of the event is set aside for children’s activities, to include a bungee cord ride and rock climbing wall.

Restaurants and fast-food eateries are available on site, along with traditional festival fare.

“It’s just fun to come and experience,” Jacobsen said. “It’s a great chance to get out of the house.”

He recommended that attendees wear good walking shoes for the day.

“The weather’s going to be perfect,” Jacobsen said. “There’s a chance to explore downtown and the merchants downtown – it’s a wonderful community event.”

Attendees get to meet all of the exhibitors in person and can discuss their work.

“It’s a chance for people to see art and enjoy art in a non-threatening manner,” he said.

Each year, the festival raises between $50,000 and $75,000 for the Rotary Club.

“It is our biggest fundraiser,” Jacobsen said. “We do wonderful things with the money.”

Some of the funds go to the Rotary’s international scholarships, but most stays within the Cape.

Jacobson noted that the money helps fund additions to Rotary Park.

“That’s a project that never ends,” he said.

It helps provide youth with scholarships to Edison State College and Florida Gulf Coast University, as well as supports charities like the Cape Coral Community Foundation and Cape Coral Caring Center.

For the full list of exhibitors, see pages 6-7B in today’s edition of the Cape Coral Breeze.

For more information about the Cape Coral Festival of the Arts, visit: www.capecoralfestival.com/.