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Thousands turn out for 35th annual Cape Coral Arts and Music Festival

By Staff | Jan 14, 2020

Tens of thousands of art afficionados flocked to the South Cape this past weekend for one of the biggest events of the year in the city, the 35th annual Cape Coral Arts and Music Festival, presented by the local Rotary.

Cape Coral Parkway was jam packed with more than 300 exhibitors on Saturday and Sunday showing off their paintings, sculptures, photography and other forms of unusual arts and crafts.

Skip Kitchen of the Rotary Club said this event is the biggest involvement with the public that they do in the city, with people coming from all over the world.

“It gets bigger every year. We have an estimated 100,000 people who come and perhaps the first ‘complaint and accolade booth,'” Kitchen said. “We jury more than 300 artists and more than 200 were turned away, as well as 125 commercial booths.”

Throughout the years, the talent has increased greatly, with artwork prices running from a few dollars to thousands.

The Rotary Club said it will continue to grow the music portion of the event, which occurred on Leonard Street. The hope is to improve the event to perhaps bring in some more mainstream acts, Kitchen said.

The artwork made up for it. To earn a ribbon, you’re work had to be really special. For Mike Venghaus of Niceville, his blue ribbon for sea-themed jewelry was well earned.

“We use glass rods and a blow torch to make everything from the inside out. I’ve done the show for eight years and this is the first time I got a ribbon,” Venghaus said. “The jury is very high quality and there are great artists all around. Business has been great both days.”

Steven Ward won the blue ribbon for painting acrylic on canvas with a pallet knife, with layers upon layers of paint. His more expansive works were about $1,500.

“Each painting has five to eight layers that builds to an image I want. Each painting takes about a week,” Ward said. “Winning was nice. I’ve done fairs for 20 years and 30 to 40 shows a year. There’s usually lots of competition.”

Cheryl Baker placed second in visual arts with her digital take on fairy tales and stories she’s painting.

“The fairy tale is about students going to magical school, but I also have animal art and a collection of witches,” Baker said. “It’s our second time and we’ve been well received by Cape Coral.”

Not everyone can win, but a few certainly impressed. Jim Morgan of Fort Myers has built his own clocks, impressive when you consider he is blind and will never see the clocks he has built.

“I design them in my head and then figure out a means and method to construct them. Then I go to work and that’s where the craftsmanship takes over,” Morgan said. “You need an imagination if you can only feel it and see it in your mind.”

Business was good, with the clocks, all made of different wood, in the $600 to $1,200 range.

It isn’t an art show without the visitors. Bobbie Cooper of Fort Myers came with a few friends and said she enjoyed the range of pricing on the items.

“There are a lot of great people and great food. It’s my second time here and there’s something for everyone. My friend is here for the 15th time,” Cooper said.

“I used to buy here all the time. I haven’t made up my mind yet whether I will this time. The price points are so good low to high,” said Diane Barnes.

“I think the jewelry is nice and there’s a lot of beach art,” said Connie Crowley, a seasonal resident. “Diane is kind of our leader, so she’s showing us around.”