Named as one of the “100 Best” fine arts events in the nation (2012), Mainsail Art Festival has a history as strong as its praise and turnout.
What started in South Straub Park almost four decades ago as a smaller-scale festival, earned its place at one of our favorite venues — Vinoy Park (701 Bayshore Drive N.E., St. Petersburg) — to accommodate more artists in 2004.
This weekend (Sat., Apr. 19, 9 a.m.-6 p.m., Sun., Apr. 20, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.), the festival returns to the St. Pete waterfront in its 39th year.
And so will the crowd, which is an expected 100,000-plus art connoisseurs.
The two-day event has virtually anything you could ask for in an art festival, with more than 270 exhibitors showing off their work. Displays of fine art and craft galore with exhibitors showing off their ceramics, digital art, fibers, glass, graphics, jewelry, metal, mixed media, oil/ acrylic, photography, sculpture, watercolor and wood.
As the festival has grown over the years, so have some of the finer details. There's been an increase in cash awards, which now totals to $60,000, including a $10,000 Best of Show and Purchase Award program.
Colorful banners will signify the Young at ARt exhibition, which features hundreds of the “best” artwork by Pinellas County students. On Saturday at 11 a.m., you can applaud the students who won Awards of Excellence and Honorable Mentions as they are announced on the main stage.
Though there’s certainly enough art to keep you preoccupied for two days (if not two weeks), try and squeeze in some time for the "top-notch" live performances.
On Saturday, expect music from noon to 6 p.m., starting with a blend of Latin, Creole and Zouk music by reggae band Impulse at noon all the way to the bluesy vibes of The Tampa Collective to close the show (with a little bit of funk and soul in between).
Sunday from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., Mainsail Art Festival brings you finger-style acoustic guitar by Shaun Hopper and sends you home with blues and soul from TC Carr and the Bolts of Blue with Josh Nelms.
To see the full lineup of entertainment, visit mainsailart.org/performing-arts-schedule.
If you happen to take some kiddos along with you, they can get inventive at the Junior League Kids Create Tent with activities such as “fish prints”, “magical star wands”, “watercolor butterflies”, “marble artistry,” and Easter-related crafts.
Chances are you’ll have an appetite for more than just art — about a dozen food and beverage vendors will be on site to satisfy your cravings, whether that calls for Greek food, wood-fired pizza, a cold frappe or handfuls of glazed nuts.
Admission to Mainsail Art Festival is free. For additional information, such as directions and parking info, visit mainsailart.org.