This year marks my 26th year of living in Florida. In those years, I’ve seen my share of outdoor festivals, which they do rather well down here. This past weekend was one of my favorites, The Mainsail Arts Festival in St. Petersburg. It was the 37th Annual Mainsail Arts Festival, and probably my 20th or so year of attendance. Nothing says Florida outdoor festival more than sunshine, pink flamingos and curly fries. (http://www.mainsailartsfestival.org/)
But this year we almost lost out on the sunshine. Saturday was a near washout with heavy rain, lightning and a tornado watch by Saturday afternoon. No problem. If you don’t like the weather in Florida, wait a few minutes and it will change. So my friends Leigh-Anne and John and I took a chance on Sunday and it turned out to be a gorgeous day. Not only did the sun come out, but the temperature was pleasant (I have been to Mainsail when people were fainting from the heat), the beer was cold, the band was playing and we got to see who won the awards because we stayed until nearly closing on Sunday evening.
Over 250 exhibitors were there, many coming annually. $50,000 in awards were handed out to deserving artists, the top prize of $10,000 to the Best of Show. Leigh-Anne, John and I browsed the rows of tents and admired the innovation and imagination of the artists. The categories were as follows; ceramics, digital art, fibers, glass, graphics, jewelry, metal, mixed media, oil/acrylic, photography, sculpture, watercolor and wood.
Much of the art was out of our price range, with artwork priced from a few thousand dollars up to a high of $18,000. It may have gone even higher as we didn’t check the prices on all the items for sale. But we did find reasonably priced art as well. We each bought a yard ornament for $10, and I couldn’t resist a cute wooden bowl with a lid, which was $45. Tom Sullivan, woodturner from Crystal River, Florida won an Award of Merit.
No outdoor Florida festival is complete without food stalls, and we were not disappointed. Yes, there it was, the food stand with the curly fries, a staple of all Florida festivals.
It was mostly sunny, with just a few passing clouds and a short rain shower now and then. But it’s Mainsail, so I would have attended rain or shine.
One of my favorite artists from this year was Marlene Rose. Her website is www.marleneroseglass.com
We saw quite a few glass exhibitors, including Susan Gott of Tampa, www.gottglass.com.
Dogs are another staple of the outdoor festival, and of course people brought them to Mainsail. This doberman might not agree with his owner, or the judges, about art appreciation. This mixed media artist won an Award of Merit.
Two local artists from Gulfport, Florida, George and Diane Bragg, won a Purchase Award for their metal art.
There was also the unusual.
There were quite a few jewelry displays, but we saw only two with awards.
And an Award of Excellence went to Jean Yao, an exhibitor in the Fibers category.
And the winner is…. The Best of Show Award, a prize of $10,000 went to artist John Mascoll, category wood. Here is a photo from his booth.
For a list of all of the award winners, go to: