Gainesville will transform into a masterful blend of art, music and entertainment during the 33rd Annual Downtown Festival & Art Show, one of the nation’s premier outdoor fine arts festivals. Presented by the City of Gainesville Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs Department, the festival draws a crowd of more than 100,000 visitors each year. On Saturday, Nov. 8, and Sunday, Nov. 9, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., visitors can meet the exhibiting artists, enjoy live music and sample international cuisine.
The Downtown Festival & Art Show, a nationally-recognized event, helps Gainesville get in touch with its creative side. Since 1996, it has ranked among the top festivals in the nation and has steadily climbed in rankings in recent years. The Downtown Festival & Art Show was ranked no. 12 on Sunshine Artist magazine’s “200 Best” list of top fine arts festivals in the nation.
Art enthusiasts are not the only ones who appreciate the festival. Visitors embrace the culture of more than 250 of the nation’s most talented artists, who showcase their original oils and acrylics, vibrant watercolors, unique sculptures, dazzling jewelry, decorative ceramics and vivid photography. Artisans compete for more than $19,000 in cash prizes and purchase awards.
“We pride ourselves on our rich collection of art and the experience we provide to the community,” said Festival Coordinator Linda Piper. “It is always so much fun to walk around the festival and see everyone enjoying the atmosphere.”
Children also have the chance to enjoy the festival and get creative at the Imagination Station, a free, hands-on art activity area. Drawing with chalk, painting pictures, designing masks, sculpting clay and creating puppets and buttons are just a few of the activities in which children will be able to artistically express themselves. In addition to craft activities, the Imagination Station features a performance area with puppet shows, magic acts and music so children can rock to their own beat. Art Education students from the University of Florida work throughout the fall semester to produce this hub of family-friendly fun.
Down the road from the Imagination Station and near the steps of the Hippodrome Theatre, more than 45 nonprofit organizations educate the crowd about the services they provide to the community. Food booths line the streets and give visitors the chance to indulge in blooming onions, sweet barbecue ribs, hearty Mediterranean pitas, Cajun jambalaya and authentic Thai cuisine. The festival features international dishes from more than 20 food vendors, so no guest leaves hungry.
Visitors craving constant entertainment can check out live performances on three stages throughout the weekend. Music from local bands and solo musicians features a blend of folk, jazz, country, pop and soul. Dance companies also catch the eyes of the crowd with ballet, jazz, modern and international dance performances. The soulful sound of blues will usher in the Downtown Festival & Art Show weekend with a free Downtown Blues Concert on Friday, Nov. 7 from 7-10 p.m. at the Bo Diddley Community Plaza. The North Central Florida Blues Society is pleased to announce an evening under the stars featuring three incredible blues performances. Rick Randlett kicks off the show with his all-original acoustic blues blending tradition with a modern touch. Next, the Bridget Kelly Band follows, with an electric vibe that blends classic blues with elements of guitar-driven Texas and Memphis blues. Headlining the concert is the 2014 International Blues Challenge winner, the Selwyn Birchwood Band, with a hip-shaking mix of blues.
“We are blessed in Alachua County with a community of performing artists that covers a spectrum of music and dance,” said Entertainment Coordinator Bill Hutchinson.
The City of Gainesville looks forward to celebrating another successful show and welcomes the community to join in this special event. Gainesville's premier fall festival is a celebration of art and culture that you won't want to miss. Start your holiday shopping now, and find unique gifts for family and friends, or purchase artwork for your own collection. Festivities are free and open to the public all weekend. For more information, visit www.gvlculturalaffairs.org, visit our Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/DowntownFestivalandArtShow or call 352-334-ARTS.