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Rotary Arts & Crafts Fair to feature more than 100 artists

By Staff | Feb 10, 2016

The Rotary Arts & Crafts Fair attracts more than 10,000 attendees over the course of two days, at The Community House. PHOTO PROVIDED

The familiar white tents will fill the space surrounding The Community House this weekend as artist showcase their best handmade pieces during the annual Rotary Arts & Crafts Fair.

Chet Sadler, advertising chairman for the Arts and Crafts Fair, as well as the secretary of the Rotary Club, said this year marks the 33rd annual fair.

“It started out that Rotary did a breakfast” serving pancakes as a fundraiser, he explained.

The club, which started on Sanibel about 36 years ago, decided to allow an artist show their work at the breakfast a couple years into the fundraiser. Sadler said the following year an additional two or three people also asked if they too could show their art.

The following year, the club decided to skip the pancake breakfast and hold an art show.

“It was a humble beginning. They had around 30 artists the first year,” Sadler said, which has grown to more than 100 artists. “For many years it was held at The Sanibel School, but when they put their new addition on we couldn’t hold it there any longer, so we moved it to The Community House.”

The Rotary Arts & Crafts Fair has become the club’s largest fundraiser. This year the show will fill the grounds of The Community House, 2173 Periwinkle Way, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 13 and from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 14.

“It’s fabulous. It’s big and well-known,” Sadler said. “President’s Day is the busiest day on Sanibel. The vendors do very well. Many people tell us this is their best show.”

The juried art show attracted 350 interested artists this year, which was dwindled down to 112 who will showcase such handcrafted items as unique gifts, wearable art, sculptures, paintings, photography, wood working, painted furniture and jewelry.

Prizes are given in three categories – 2D paintings and photography; 3D sculptures, ceramics, wood carvings and crafts, which includes such items as rugs, shawls and women’s painted clothing.

First, second and third prizes are given through money awards. Sadler said the first place winner will also receive free entry into next year’s fair, a $350 value.

Artists from a Guatemala organization will sell their handcrafted bead art inside The Community House during the two day fair. The money generated from the sales will help build schools in Guatemala.

“The art that they have is really popular,” Sadler said, adding that they have a designer in the United States that helps them design such pins as lizards and frogs. “They are really real to life the way they make them.”

The organization has sold their jewelry at the fair for the past few years raising more than $10,000.

Sadler said it’s a huge concern of the club that two-thirds of the people in Guatemala live under the poverty line, which is why it’s so important they support the organization.

The club will also have their Rotary Arts & Crafts Fair shirts on sale ranging in price from $15 to $35. Sadler said the artwork of Luke Century, a famous artist that lives on Sanibel, will grace the front of the shirt. The selection includes a hoodie, long-sleeve UV resistance T-shirt and a regular T-shirt.

Twelve-ounce bags of Guatemalan coffee will also be sold during the fair, Sadler said due to the club supporting a co-op. He said all the profits will go towards micro financing loans for the bean farmers in Guatemala.

“That’s the stuff our Rotary sells . . . T-shirts and coffee,” Sadler said.

A silent auction will be held inside The Community House featuring many items from local businesses. Sadler said the cutoff is 3 p.m. Sunday for biding and individuals do not have to be present to win.

“They can come and pick it up that day, or can pick it up at one of our members businesses,” he said.

Funds generated from the fair will go towards local nonprofits, as well as international nonprofits.

“Our goal is to help disadvantaged people that don’t have a way of supporting themselves,” he said.

Such food vendors as barbecue sausage and chicken, ice cream and kettle corn will be available for purchase both Saturday and Sunday.

Shuttle buses will run both days from various parking lots along Periwinkle Way. Sadler said the bus will pick up attendees and take them to the fair.

Although entrance to the fair is free, the club is asking for a suggested $5 donation.

For more information about the Rotary Arts & Crafts Fair call (239) 312-3181, or visit www.sanibelartfair.com.

Follow Meghan @IslanderMeghan on Twitter.