The Clermont Art Festival, coming the weekend of Nov. 7-8, will feature a select group of artists this year. Taking its cue from the city’s new motto, “Clermont—Choice of Champions,” the event is being billed as a “Champions for the Arts” program and is open to the public with free admission.
“This is the first year we’re going to be more exclusive in our selection of artist by limiting the number to fifty juried artists,” said Larry Oskins, a volunteer with Marketing Solutions. “Their entrants will be judged by a jury of professional artists as we’re looking for work that is unique and refined.”
Set amid the distinctive shops in the historic business district of Clermont, the festival features as many as 100 vendors. The Clermont Farmer’s Market, with its 60 vendors, arrives Sunday and will be adjacent to the festival. A special KidZone, staffed by schoolteachers, will give kids a chance to produce their own works. Artwork done by area children in grades one through 12 will be displayed.
“I feel it’s really important for the city of Clermont to recognize and promote the talent we have here as well as from around the country,” Larry said. “The Clermont Art Festival is a prestigious event that continues to draw people to our area.”
A minimum of $3,000 in cash prizes is up for grabs under five distinct categories of work. These include Fine Art 2D, Fine Art 3D, Photography, Jewelry and Fine Crafts. There also will be an overall “Best of Show” winner, who will be the featured artist for the 2016 Clermont Arts Festival. Past winners of this coveted prize include Gesa Barton, of Eustis; Bill Bernoir, of Groveland; Pet Percy, of Clermont; and Brandy Renee, of Winter Park.
Benjamin Peterson, of Tampa, won “Best of Show” in 2015 and is this year’s featured artist. Samples of his work can be viewed on the Facebook page of Natural Elements Art-Yard Sculpture and Wall Décor.
With their unique configurations and designs, the sculptures reflect the quality of fine art represented at the Clermont Art Festival. The whimsical metal designs of fish, dragonflies, butterflies and a variety of original pieces are among the most popular in yard and home décor.
Ron Smart, executive director of Clermont Downtown Partnership, says the goal of the art festival, besides introducing fine art to the area, is to showcase the beauty of historic downtown Clermont. Shops and restaurants are conveniently located near the festival to offer great food and shopping during the event.
“We anticipate more than 6,000 people will visit, and not only will we have a variety of notable artists from Florida, we’re expecting entrants from Wisconsin, Massachusetts, Tennessee and North Carolina,” Ron said. “We are selecting only juried artists this year to narrow the competition to one division, which means it’s better for the artists and prospective buyers.”
Ron did extensive research to find information on previous festivals. “I think in 1985 there may have been as many as 20,000 people who came to the area called Waterfront Park, and all that changed with the damage done by the citrus freezes. We’re building this event more every year, to reflect how it was.”
Visitors will have easy access to view and purchase artwork. They can also talk personally with individual artists.
“As you know, there is not as much exposure to the arts as there once was. We are especially interested in reaching young people to show the value of creative expression,” Ron said. “The KidZone will be staffed by teachers from elementary school to high school from local public and private schools. Children will be able to do hands-on arts and crafts.”
The two-day event will feature bands on the main stage as well as street performers, mimes, and other entertainers.
Sponsorship, donor and purchase award opportunities are still available, including the coveted title sponsor role held by Royal Oak Homes in 2014. If you’re more interested in volunteering as an individual, contact the Clermont Downtown Partnership at Info@ClermontDowntownPartnership.com or call 405.204.0829.
This unique festival will take place in historic downtown Clermont, adjacent to the shores of Lake Minneola and the midway marker on the Florida Coast-to-Coast Bicycle Trail in South Lake County, just 20 miles west of Orlando.