Banner crowd attends Rotary’s Festival of the Arts
The 26th annual Festival of the Arts proved to be a huge hit with more than 100,000 people in attendance on Saturday and Sunday purchasing a good amount of artwork from the 306 artists who had a tent set up.
John Jacobsen, event coordinator, said the artists did really well this year, with some of them almost selling out on the inventory they brought with them for the two-day festival.
“Everyone I have talked to are having a really good show,” he said adding that he is very pleased with this year’s event. “The artwork is fabulous.”
The first festival that was introduced to Cape Coral 26 years ago attracted 140 artists. Jacobsen said this year they had 306 artists set up along the parkway. One hundred and twenty artists were turned away.
Tampa pottery artist Harry Welsh, who won the Best of Show, has participated in the festival for the past 10 years. He explained that there is always a nice appreciative crowd at the festival who provide a lot of good feedback.
Welsh began working with clay 35 years ago after he made his wife, Kimberly Wellman, her first kiln after she took a pottery class and wanted to continue making pottery. The two are functional potters who create pieces of artwork that is also safe for using for food.
“Clay is something that is a nice median because it will do what you want it to do,” he said.
The two of them create a variety of pieces together. Welsh said when working on the different pieces they already see the finished product before they start creating because of the number of years they have spent perfecting their artwork, along with the technique that goes into the piece of pottery.
Wendy Foreman, a jeweler out of Sarasota, made her first appearance at the festival after creating jewelry for 30 years. She said she did not know what to expect from the festival, but was pleasantly surprised with the huge crowd that attended the event.
Foreman mostly had silver jewelry on display at the festival that was inspired by nature. She said she enjoys playing and experimenting with her jewelry because she comes up with different ideas and techniques.
The parkway was packed as individuals and their four-legged friends made their way from one tent to another admiring the different artwork showcased that included mixed media, photography, fine crafts, jewelry, paintings and sculptures from artist across the country.
For 15 consecutive years Tom Wetter has attended the Cape Coral Festival of Arts to seek out ocean motifs to add to his collection. He said he thoroughly enjoyed the festival this year because of the beautiful weather.
“Last year was bad,” he said about the cold, rainy weather, “but we still came down here.”
Wetter said he enjoys attending the festival every year because “you never know what you will see and buy.”
Julie Marceau attended the festival for the first time this year after her friend at work told her about the event. She said if she would have found out about the festival sooner she would have spent Saturday and Sunday cruising the parkway while walking in and out of the different artists’ tents.
She said she really enjoyed the variety of artists who were at the festival, along with the different kinds of art they had on display. After about two hours of walking around, she was going to take a break and hit one of the many food vendors to grab a bite to eat before she continued on her journey of finding other great pieces of art that she could add to her home.
“It’s fabulous,” Marceau said about the festival and great weather. “I really enjoy it.”
Diane Klepsch was also a first timer at the art festival due to her daughter telling her about the event and how she needed to go and check things out. She said she attended the festival on Saturday and came back on Sunday with her husband who spent the day walking around and visiting the artists.
“I enjoy watching the people,” she said about the festival, adding that she was very surprised with all the dogs that were walking the parkway as well.
Jacobsen said they had 150 volunteers help them keep the streets clean and the festival flowing nicely on Saturday and Sunday. He said they all showed a community spirit and love for the event.
“What it does for the community is spectacular,” Jacobsen said about the festival because it provides the residents of Cape Coral with the opportunity to get out and meet new friends, along with reuniting with old friends.
In addition to the festival proving to be a success for the artists, local restaurants and businesses that have their shops set up alongside the parkway also did very well this year.
Jacobsen said this is the best weekend of the year for many of them because it brings exposure to them.
“It’s a chance of discovery,” he said for those who attend the festival and notice the variety of businesses.
Jacobsen said he hoped to have all the artists packed up and on their way by 8 p.m. Sunday night, so they could start removing the 500 barricades they had set up to close down Cape Coral Parkway from Del Prado Boulevard to Vincennes Boulevard.