Santa Fe's Spring Arts Festival kicks off season

Published: Friday, April 1, 2005 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, March 31, 2005 at 11:23 p.m.
As the last of winter's chilly breezes waft through the area, the change in seasons can mean only one thing for North Central Florida - festivals, concerts and a plethora of spring activities in the coming weeks.
Kicking off this spring's festival season is Santa Fe Community College's Spring Arts Festival, which will take over SE 1st Street in downtown Gainesville this weekend.
Kathryn Lehman, SFCC Cultural Arts Programs coordinator, said the timing of the festival is somewhat of a coincidence.
"The first factor we look at is when is Easter, because we have two churches on the street and we need to respect their ability to celebrate Easter," Lehman said. "The next factor is we try to make it as early as we can. We kick off the North Central Florida festival season, but we actually are the last festival for a lot of the artists that come down nationally to Florida."
Lehman said a 1998 study found that the Spring Arts Festival brought a $9 million economic impact to the area, and she said the event has only gotten more popular every year. "We're really not trying to make it bigger," she said. "We're trying to make it better."
Roland Loog, director of the Alachua County Visitors and Convention Bureau, said this weekend's art festival is one of the best in the area, and it is an ideal event to kick off the season.
"It's one of the nation's best art festivals and it is a high point for the whole community and Alachua County," he said. "This is one of the ones where you really see great artists."
Loog said local hotels are filling up in anticipation of the coming events, and he said the added revenue from tourists is vital to the local economy.
"It's not just coming here for an arts festival," he said. "They're coming here to have a good time, hopefully have some great weather, visit restaurants, maybe see the butterfly museum. Hopefully, they'll be more likely to return because of it."

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