During the second weekend of October, Thornebrook Village will transform into a wonderland of art and entertainment during the 29th Annual Art Festival at Thornebrook.
On Oct. 12 and 13, the Thornebrook shopping center will fill with dozens of tents where painters, woodcrafters, jewelry makers, photographers, quilters, glassblowers and entertainers of many stripes can sell their wares and demonstrate their particular techniques from 10am to 5pm, both days, at 2441 NW 43rd St.
The festival is produced by The Gainesville Fine Arts Association and the Thornebrook Merchants Association. Other sponsors include Thornebrook Gallery, Thornebrook Chocolates, Scarborough Insurance and Ford Lincoln Hyundai of Gainesville, according to Cindy Smith, the festival’s marketing director. The festival is put on with no funds from the state.
Overall expected weekend attendance is about 10,000 people, Smith said, and because of the sponsorships and artist booth fees, the festival is free for all attendees. Many of those attendees will be, and have been in the past, from outside of Gainesville, as the festival is advertised in Ocala and Lake City.
A couple hundred artists will travel to Gainesville from as far away as Key West and Wisconsin to show off and sell their work. From the local arts community attendees can expect favorites like nature photographer John Moran and painter Eleanor Blair. Artists will compete with their work and booths for best in show designations and a fair amount of prize money, she said.
Smith said that what sets the Thornebrook festival apart from other local art shows is that it is a “curated showcase of the fine arts,” where only a specific few artists are chosen by the festival committee for what they see as a high quality of work.
The atmosphere, she said, is also more intimate inside Thornebrook’s park-like interior. The festival will take up most of the village’s paths and plazas so that attendees can walk in the shade. Many of the artists will be performing live demonstrations of their techniques as attendees wander through, whether that’s painting, weaving a basket or blowing glass.
“I like to say that people should come out and enjoy art in action,” Smith said. Observing artists at work allows attendees to see what actually goes into producing a piece, instead of just buying it at a department store, she said.
Live entertainment will be provided throughout the festival, both on the village’s center stage and wandering throughout the event. Entertainers include local magician Magic Mike, belly dancers, the Gainesville Barbergators and the band Kimmy and the Tease.
In addition, the festival will have a kid’s area, where young artists can get hands-on art experience painting ceramic tiles. The committee is also trying to bring in small therapeutic horses for the kids to interact with.
The mission of The Art Festival at Thornebrook, according to Smith, is more than just selling products. It’s about making sure people are aware just how large and involved the arts community in Gainesville really is.
“This is just an opportunity to not only showcase our local art association’s work and to also bring in artists from all over the United States,” Smith said, “but it’s also a way to raise awareness of the arts and the arts in our community.”