suncoast10Wesley Chapel artist Alan Metzger didn’t sell any of his original art all weekend, but when he packed up Sunday at the conclusion of the 11th annual Suncoast Arts Festival (SAF) at the Shops at Wiregrass mall, he did so with plans to return.

“I thought it was a real good event,’’ said Metzger, who did sell 20-40 prints of his work, including a commemorative poster for the International Polo Club of Palm Beach for which Metzger won an award and some acclaim. “The (SAF) event was really well run, and I was impressed.”

The SAF, held on Paseo Dr. down the heart of the mall the weekend of Jan. 16-17, got a perfect day of weather on Saturday for its biggest crowds, and then survived a major overnight storm to once again pull off a successful event.

Artists came to the area from places like Satsuma, FL, Aurora, CO, and Eastham, MA, selling all kinds of fine art, jewelry and other crafts.

suncoast2“I’m really pleased with how everything went,’’ said Jennifer Douglas, who owns Jennifer Lee Events, which managed this year’s SAF. “Even the bad weather (early Sunday morning) did very minimal damage. The skies cleared just in time for another gorgeous day.”

Proceeds from the festival are donated to Pasco County schools through the Fine Arts of the Suncoast’s grant program.

Eleven grants were awarded Sunday to Pasco County art students, including Wiregrass Ranch’s Darcy Fermin.

Fermin was awarded the grant so the school could work with its printing press to making etchings and linoleum carvings and create one-of-a-kind prints. Students there are researching the pros and cons of different printing press art.

Douglas said that while she wouldn’t have official attendance figures for a few weeks, in recent years the event has drawn roughly 100,000 visitors over the course of the weekend and this year’s crowds were similar to those in the past.

suncoast6The festival had a free, hands-on art garden and art “makerspace,” where kids could create their own works of art. In front of the Dillard’s at the mall, sidewalk artists used chalk to create drawings of colorful frogs, a large octopus, a 3-D rendition of BB-8 (the droid from the latest “Star Wars” movie) and others.

This also was the first year the street art was a commissioned exhibit, which was sponsored by Tampa Bay Business for Culture & the Arts.

Metzger said the rough overnight weather did scatter the tent and some of the artwork of one of the artists across from him, but the festival’s staff did a great job of retrieving the tent and art and restoring it to its proper place.

Some artists did choose to leave before the bad weather arrived on Sunday to be safe, Lee said, because their art was more delicate, but she also noted that there was a total of 125 booths set up by artists and sponsors, and 116 confirmed artists, as well as seven sidewalk chalk artists, and that business was as brisk on Sunday as it was the day before.

suncoast8On the main stage across from Macy’s, De Lei’ed Parrots (photo on next page) provided musical entertainment on Saturday and the popular Florida-based band the Black Honkeys played on Sunday.

The 2016 SAF’s Best of Show Award went to Maitland, FL artist Rolly Ray Reel, who has been exhibiting at art festivals all across the country for 45 years and has appeared at this event before. His booth featured mixed media pieces that toed the line between painting and sculpture, incorporating found items like chains, stones and metal with acrylic and oils into some very interesting art that caught the eyes of many those passing by.

Other winners this weekend included:

1st place, 2D — Ed Myers

2nd place, 2D — Collin Margera

3rd place, 2D — Jinsheng Song

1st place, 3D — Tim Peters

2nd place, 3D — Harry Welsh

3rd place, 3D — Nancy Cutler Jewelry

1st place, jewelry — Obayana Ajanaku

2nd place jewelry — Kathleen LaValley Masterson

Best booth design — Jake Asuit

Emerging Artist winners

1st — Ana Christina

2nd — Jalen Rehsi

3rd — Bree Leviston

For a complete list of the art winners, including chalk art and emerging artist winners, visit or

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