Festival of the Arts

Arts-filled weekend attracts thousands to Apollo Beach

The 25th Annual Manatee Arts Festival is a wrap, but memories of the two-day event will linger long after.

An estimated 7,000 visitors perused the works of about 100 artists and artisans, who displayed their wares among the trees at E.G. Simmons Park in Ruskin. Paintings, sculpture, mixed media and other fine art forms were presented during the silver anniversary event, which also included a variety of live entertainment.

The Kids’ Firehouse Art Station, sponsored by the Firehouse Cultural Center, was packed with children of all ages creatively expressing themselves through arts activities.

And there were lots of food options for folks to enjoy.

Kim Newell, of Apollo Beach, attended the festival for the first time after moving to the area two years ago.

“It’s very nice,” she said. “I love all the art, especially unique work like this pottery (by Laura Thomas, of Sarasota).”

“This year we raised the bar with the quality of art,” said Melanie Rimes, executive director of the SouthShore Chamber of Commerce, which hosted the event with the SouthShore Arts Council. “The feedback we received from artists, patrons and visitors was fantastic. The layout was wonderful; the weather was beautiful; and people who were there definitely spent money.”

“Next year we’ll focus a little more on marketing to increase our attendance,” she added. “But all in all, I couldn’t be more pleased.”

Lois Kindle

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