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Busy weekend ahead in Cape Coral

By Staff | Jan 10, 2009

Boredom should not be a part of anyone’s vocabulary this weekend. There are a smattering of activities taking place between Saturday and Sunday on both sides of the bridge, on Pine Island and Matlacha, even down in Bonita Springs.
There is so much happening in such a short period of time, in fact, one might be hard pressed to squeeze it all into such a tight time frame.
Art lovers and crazed exercise enthusiasts specifically, will be taking over the Cape, as the city welcomes two of its biggest events of the year. “Festival of the Arts” and the “Tour de Cape,” both open on Saturday, bringing world class art and high athletic challenge to the city.
Beginning at 10 a.m., “Festival of the Arts” will take over the Parkway, offering 300 booths of varied artistic mediums and talents.
The Festival is expected to draw 100,000 people over the two-day period, offering museum-quality work at price ranges to fit everyone’s budget.
Organizer and Community Redevelopment Agency Executive Director John Jacobsen has overseen this event over its 23 year history.
He was busy on Friday afternoon, making sure all the pieces were falling in place in anticipation of the big event.
“We’re just trying to get the last bits and pieces worked,” Jacobsen said by cell phone. “We’re getting all the booths painted and marked off, chatting with all the artists, just making sure things are working.”
Also a Rotary member (the Rotary Club of Cape Coral sponsors the event), Jacobsen said the club was working on something different this year.
The longstanding Cape organization is bringing over descendants of Seminole Indians from Andros Island, in the Bahamas, introducing some of them to American soil for the first time.
The Seminole will have their own booth, which will feature their minister of tourism and Seminole wood carving.
The Rotary is trying to help out the Seminole financially, already having built them a schoolyard and new computers.
“They are very poor and need our help,” Jacobsen said. “Its an interesting story. Some of these people have never been to America before.”
If artistry, Seminole history, and the luxury of strolling down the middle of the Parkway with a cool drink on a warm winter day isn’t enough to draw you out of your house this weekend, then maybe the Tour de Cape will get your blood flowing.
A long-standing tradition, the Tour de Cape always runs concurrently with the Festival of Arts. The event is spread out over two days with a 5K run/walk Saturday and the tour Sunday.
The tour offers several difficulty levels to challenge even the most advanced riders, drawing anywhere from 600-700 people. Courses of 15, 30, 60 and 100 miles will be featured in the west and north sections of the Cape.
Mayor Jim Burch touted not only the importance of the these two events as showcases for the Cape and as pieces of an economic engine that works all year long.
The Festival of the Arts, especially, pumps dollars into the downtown corridor even no one buys a piece of art.
“It’s a component of our economic engine,” he said. “We’re pretty well known for our Arts Festival. All people don’t buy from the vendors, but they spend money around the vendors.”
Burch praised Jacobsen for the effort he has put into the event over the last two decades.
He said it was a “very important day” for the city, and gives people something to take their minds off these difficult economic times.
“I’m certainly looking forward to all the events,” he said. “And they couldn’t come at a better time.”

n “23rd annual Cape Coral Festival of the Arts” takes place Jan. 10 – 11, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m., on Cape Coral Parkway between Del Prado Boulevard and Vincennes Boulevard. Artists from around the state, even the county, will descend on the city to sell their wares, including photography, sculpture, original painting, and custom jewelry.
n “The 18th annual Tour de Cape” begins Saturday with a 5K Run/Walk, attracting 200 – 300 participants. The big draw, the Tour itself, draws anywhere from 600-700 people with courses of 15, 30, 60 and 100 miles in the west and north sections of the Cape. Pre-registration for the 5K is $15, and $20 the day of the run. The tour’s price is $35 to register day of.
n “Pine Island Creative Coast Weekend” is ongoing, having begun on Friday. Events span both Matlacha and Pine Island, with multiple artist openings and demonstrations, and live entertainment. For a complete list, visit floridacreativecoast.com.
n The Fort Myers Redevelopment Agency’s first Bike Night of the year takes place on Saturday, Jan. 10, in the city’s River District. Starting at 4 p.m. the streets of downtown Fort Myers will shut down in anticipation of the big event, which kicks off at 6 p.m.
“It’s one of our larger events. People come from all over the region,” said LaTasha Armstead, CRA office manager. “All the streets are filled, you can’t even walk.”
Armstead said riders can expect plenty of vendors, but the CRA leaves food and drinks to the downtown eateries.
The CRA also coordinates with the Cape, as not to have conflicting Bike Nights.
“We coordinate with the Cape to alter our Bike Nights throughout the year,” Armstead said. “Our last one of the season is May 16th, then the Cape takes over for the rest of the year.”
n “Roc Day” kicks off at the Cape Coral Library on Saturday, too, featuring the preservation and appreciation of fiber art.
A centuries old craft, Fiber Art uses textiles such as fiber, yarn, and natural and synthetic fibers to create interesting projects.
Fiber artist Rose Young, a member of the Weaver of Char-Lee, a bi-county group of fiber artists, was getting her ducks in a row on Friday, prepping for their own big event.
“We’re excited about it,” she said. “We’re getting our looms together, warping the looms, which means we’re putting the yarn on them.”
Young said the busy weekend might prove difficult for some of the Weavers of Char-Lee’s members, who dabble in multiple artistic mediums.
It’s a give or take for Young, who said the weekends focus on the arts is a small price to pay.
“It’s going to be a wonderful weekend, especially for the arts,” Young said. “Many of us are involved in more than one group, and we basically just have to pick and choose.”
n Alliance of the Arts’ “Walk Through the Arts”, in Fort Myers, will focus on many artistic mediums, including performance art, something that’s absent in the Cape event. It’s today, Saturday, Jan. 10, from 10 a.m.-2 p.m., 10091 McGregor Blvd., Fort Myers.
n Cape Coral Community Foundation’s VIP Wine Tasting, offers food and wine tasting, and a prime parking spot, at the Wachovia Bank Parking lot at the corner of Del Prado and the Parkway. $50 per person proceeds go to benefit the CCCF’s community fund.
n 10th annual Bonita Springs National Art Festival, Jan. 10 -11, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m., at the Promenade at Bonita Bay shopping center, on South Bay Drive and Tamiami Trail.