Anyone attempting to drive the side streets of Tarpon Springs just west of downtown and Pinellas Avenue can attest to the popularity of the annual festival that took over Craig Park this weekend.
Thousands made their way to the waterside park to take part in one of the city’s more highly anticipated events, the 39th Annual Tarpon Springs Fine Arts Festival on the Bayou, where parking was certainly at a premium.
Once through the event’s gates, it never takes long to see what all the fuss is about.
Over 200 artists came from all over the region, state and country to set up booths that wrapped and weaved through Craig Park displaying and selling artwork of various mediums. In addition to the artistic main attractions is a designated food court area and live music in the park’s band shell.
Sue Thomas, president of the Tarpon Springs Chamber of Commerce, the event’s organizer, said it was another successful weekend in the park. Along with the ideal weather, she said most artists she spoke with reviewed the festival positively.
“I had some artists tell me it was the best show they’ve ever gone to,” Thomas said. “People buy at this show. It’s always been that way and it’s a good thing because it brings the artists back.”
Kevin Jenkins, a copper sculptor from Homosassa, said he’s made it a point to attend the Tarpon Springs event almost annually over the past 30 years.
“It’s a great venue and the Chamber of Commerce puts on a great show with a dedicated staff and tireless workers,” he said from his booth Sunday. “They really, really try not to make it bigger, but make it better. That’s so important nowadays because there are shows everywhere but not with this quality.”
Another three-dimensional artist, Patti Karg, made her way to Tarpon Springs all the way from Kechi, Kans. It was her second time to the event, she said, but first since the mid-1990s.
Karg, like many of the participating local and out-of-area artists, typically hits events like Tarpon Springs’ as part of a circuit of festivals that operate throughout the state, region and country.
Beyond making pulling in profits or setting up future sales, Jenkins said an added benefit of participating in events annually is the people.
“I build relationships with people. It’s not unusual for me to sit here and see someone I sold something to 20 years ago. It’s really interesting because for me they choose a prominent place in their home to put a piece of my artwork.”