Monday, February 13, 2012

New twists rekindle Suncoast Arts Fest

Wesley Chapel -- This year’s Suncoast Arts Fest at the Shoppes at Wiregrass drew crowds in excess of 100,000 in late January and added a few new aspects to what many consider one of the fastest growing art festivals in Central Florida. For the seventh year in a row the show continued to grow and draw talented artists from across the region.
A 5k run was added to raise money directly for area schools’ art classes and chalk artists were dotted through the hundreds of vendors. Fantastic food was featured and there was a Flash Mob Dance on Sunday.
“The dance group was excellent,” said Pam Marron, co-chair of the Suncoast Arts Fest. “It was kind of a surprise because normally Wiregrass doesn’t allow flash mobs, in-line with a lot of other area malls. So it was a neat one-time event.”
The two-day festival featured 85 artists displaying and selling their work. There were also ten vendors offering a variety of goods.
“We had people from around the region come to this event to display their wares and art,” explained Marron. “I also had 21 other artists come to the event to see it first-hand and they decided to sign up for next year.” The dates for next year are already set for Jan 19-20, 2013. Artists came from the local area plus, Orlando, Punta Gorda and Sarasota. “Each year we draw artists and visitors in from further and further distances,” said Marron.
As in the past the Fest used smart phone technology to push out the information on the musical performances, as well as specials offered around the Shoppes of Wiregrass.
“We worked hard this year to make the event more interactive,” Marron said. “We used QR codes, Facebook and twitter to keep our visitors aware of the events as they happened.”
The School District played and even larger part in the festival this year according to Marron. Art teachers and their students made up a bulk of the volunteer force.
Marron said that a number of the sponsors were extremely happy with the turn out and one boasted a 40% increase in sales over the previous year. What will they think of next as they continue to grow what has become a featured art festival in the region?