WINTER HAVEN - Not only has it become a way to bring residents and visitors to spend two days in downtown Winter Haven, but for 39 years the annual Victor Smith Law Group Central Park Art Festival has served as an event that brings in some of the state’s finest artwork and artists.
The 40th edition of the event is Saturday and Sunday, set up around downtown’s Virginia Miller and Central parks at Fourth Street Northwest. The annual festival will bring in about 100 fine art and fine craft artists from throughout the United States.
There's also daily entertainment, food trucks and activities for children and adults, said Christy Hemenway, executive director with the Ridge Art Association.
For 2018, Hemenway said, the Central Park Art Festival will take place in two instead of three downtown parks because parts of South Central Park are under construction or repair.
Hemenway — who co-coordinates the Central Park Art Festival with her husband, Richard Hemenway — said parking should not be a problem since there is a downtown parking garage available. She said depending on weather, over the past two to three years, the Central Park Art Festival has drawn up to 18,000 visitors.
“We’re usually spread over three blocks, this year it’s just two but that will make it more intimate,” said Christy Hemenway. “And this year, when you walk down the sidewalk, there will be artists on both sides.”
Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. During both days, a steady schedule of live entertainment is lined up, said Richard Hemenway.
Saturday: 11 to 11:30 a.m., Pinewood Elementary School Chorus; noon to 2 p.m., Wiley, PJ and the Mazz; 4:40 to 6 p.m., Polk County All-Stars: Hunter Smith, Carlos and Rafael Unzueta, Jake Cockrell. Background art show music will be provided between sets.
Sunday: 1 to 2 p.m., Jade Keever and from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m., Andy Palmer.
The Cypress Gardens Water Ski Team will be on hand most of Sunday with a show at 5 p.m. on Lake Silver.
For 2018, $8,500 is being given out in cash prizes for artists’ works in various categories. Each year, the Ridge Art Association encourages local patrons to take part in Purchase Award prizes by pledging dollars to the program to guarantee artwork in the festival is purchased by individuals. Artists will give patrons who buy art in that manner a 10 percent discount.
One of those artists in the 2018 show is Cathi Harris Draper. A retired massage therapist, she began working in oil and watercolors about 15 years ago and began selling her art within the past three years.
Harris Draper said she visited the festival in 2017 and decided it would be a good place to start showing her art work, with prices from $75 for prints to up to $300 for original paintings.
“There are a lot of local (artists) involved and I thought it would be a good place to begin my art shows,” she said.
Among the food trucks scheduled to set up at this year’s Central Park Art Festival are Tullalah’s, Sawadee Thai, Laughing Crab and Maryland Crab Cake.
Paul Catala can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 863-802-7533. He can be reached at Twitter @pcat0226.