The holiday season is quickly sneaking up on us. People are already busy figuring out what to be for Halloween, and after that, there will be Thanksgiving preparations, Christmas shopping and New Year's festivities to think about.
While all that's going on, organizers with the group Fine Arts of the Suncoast are looking ahead to the unofficial Pasco County holiday of their own making: the Suncoast Arts Fest. And one of the first things to be done is lining up the artists that make the event what it is.
Applications are now being accepted through November for artists and fine crafters for the eighth annual Suncoast Arts Fest, which will take place Jan. 19-20 at the Shops at Wiregrass, in Wesley Chapel.
Since moving to the Shops at Wiregrass in 2009 — and then moving it on the calendar from spring to January — the Suncoast Arts Fest has grown into one of the premier arts events on the Suncoast and one of the biggest events of any kind all year in Pasco County. As in the last few years, more than 100,000 people are expected to attend this year's Arts Fest, which will feature the work of more than 145 artists.
The event also includes live entertainment, chalk artists, a Kids Art Garden and an "Emerging Artists" display.
Having grown to the size it has and scheduled for a time of year when there are few other shows competing for artists, Suncoast Arts Fest draws artists from up and down the East Coast, but the show began as a showcase for more localized talent, and the festival retains a decidedly Floridian flavor.
All works must be original, created by the applying artist and must be "hand crafted," not mass produced. All artwork must be appropriate for viewers of all ages. A Suncoast Arts Fest committee will determine the suitability of work submitted.
This is a juried art show, and there is a $210 booth fee and a $35 jury fee for those who participate. Several cash awards are available, with the "Best of Show" artists taking home $2,000.
In addition, there will be a $1,000 Award of Excellence, two Awards of Distinction worth $500 each and four Awards of Merit worth $250. There will also be a $250 award for the best booth display and a $50 Emerging Artist award.
Application deadline is Nov. 30.
The Fine Arts of the Suncoast is a tax-exempt nonprofit group supported in part by Pasco County and its Tourist Development Council. Proceeds from the event help supplement arts education funding in schools.
Businesses, groups and individuals can learn more about sponsorship, entertainment and volunteer opportunities by visiting www.suncoastartsfest.com or calling (727) 247-6182.