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Festival of the Arts attracts estimated crowd of 85,000

By Staff | Jan 15, 2013

An estimated 85,000 people enjoyed arts, crafts and some beautiful weather over the weekend during the 28th annual Cape Coral Festival of the Arts.

Sponsored by Achieva, the juried show featured more than 300 exhibitors and is hosted by the Rotary Club of Cape Coral. First, second and third place were handed out in six categories, with Best of Show for an overall winner.

John Jacobsen, chairman of the event, explained that the categories are photography, painting, mixed media, fine crafts, sculpture and jewelry.

“The show – because it is now 28 years old – has a very good reputation in the art community for what sells and what doesn’t in Cape Coral,” he said.

Jacobsen noted that the festival attracts about 500 applicants.

“I think this is Cape Coral’s biggest event,” he said. “I think it’s the most family friendly event (in Cape Coral).”

This year, attendance numbers about matched last year’s total.

“Our record year was about 100,000,” Jacobsen said, adding that the record-breaking year was four years ago. “This is slightly down.”

Cape residents Steve and Shelley Mattesich dropped by with their son, 7-year-old Nicholas, and dog, Marley. It was their second year attending.

“We like the activities,” Steve Mattesich said. “Gets us out of the house.”

He added that the festival is “convenient” because it is in the Cape.

Shelley Mattesich noted that the family is redecorating a room in their residence, so she was keeping an eye out for a possible new painting.

“I like it,” Shelley Mattesich said of festival.

“They’ve got everything you need,” Steve Mattesich added. “A wide array.”

Kay Largo resident Clay Tinney, an exhibitor in the jewelry category, was present with his copper creations – earrings, rings and bracelets. He said it was his sixth or seventh year participating in the festival in recent years.

Tinney actually took part in the event during its first couple of years.

“I shop for shows like you shop for anything else,” he said, adding that he participates in close to 50 shows each year.

Tinney learned his craft in Vermont about 30 to 35 years ago.

“It’s kind of a handcrafted state,” he said, adding that he enjoys what he does. “You’re working for yourself – you travel.”

Asked about the Cape show, Tinney cited the turnout as a plus.

“It’s a big show and they continually increase the number every year,” he said. “This is pretty consistent for me because of the volume.”

In today’s times, Tinney notices that shoppers are searching for unique but affordable items. His pieces range from $15 to $550, which he does sell.

“I try to have a good low-end and a low middle-end,” he said.

Tinney also relies on his bongo playing skills to make an impression.

“When they spend a lot of money, I’ll play them a tune,” he said.

According to Jacobsen, every attendee that he saw and talked to over the weekend reported that the Cape show was “one of the best shows ever.”

“I got nothing but compliments on the quality of arts,” he said.

“Everybody was happy,” Jacobsen said.

Estero residents Gordon and Susan Harrison may have disagreed.

The couple, who lived in the Cape 12 years ago and attended the show during its early years, reported that they came specifically looking for a painting.

“This was much more arts and crafts than fine art,” Susan Harrison said, adding that the pieces were more “consumer priced.”

Gordon Harrison noted that the show was not fine arts to begin with.

The couple did appreciate the memories the visit brought back.

“There was still the nostalgia,” Susan Harrison said.

She liked the new site location in the downtown Cape, and Gordon Harrison called the free admission “good.” Both agreed that the show is much larger.