Festival of hues and blues

Visitors walk up and down Southeast First Street during the 2011 Downtown Festival & Art Show. About 100,000 are expected for this year's event, which runs Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (BRAD MCCLENNY/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER/FILE)

Published: Wednesday, October 10, 2012 at 11:42 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, October 10, 2012 at 11:42 a.m.

As the weather cools down, Gainesville residents prepare for the usual fall traditions — carving pumpkins, roasting turkeys and attending the Downtown Festival & Art Show.


Downtown Festival & Art Show

What: 31st annual with 250 artists, live entertainment, food and children's activities
When: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday
Where: Downtown Gainesville along Southeast First Street
Cost: Free
Info: 334-ARTS (2787), www.gvlculturalaffairs.org

Downtown Blues Concert
What: Idaho-native blues singer/harmonica player John Németh, The R. Mutt Blues Band and Terraplane Blues Band appear in concert presented by the North Central Florida Blues Society
When: 7 p.m. Saturday
Where: Bo Diddley Community Plaza, 111 E. University Ave.
Cost: Free

Entertainment Schedule:
PLAZA STAGE: MC — Bill Hutchinson
10 a.m.: Lost Safari Drummers
11 a.m.: Santa Fe Brass — brass band
12 p.m.: Quartermoon — country and roots
1 p.m.: Blues Lightning — blues
2 p.m.: Cracker the Box with Anthony Kavouklis
3 p.m.: Orquesta SalSumba D'Gville — salsa
4 p.m.: Gainesville Community Jazz Band
11 a.m.: Mystic Waters — healing pop
12 p.m.: Find Your Truth — pop rock
1 p.m.: Talking Stick — original pop
2 p.m.: Sun Country Dance Theatre
2:30 p.m.: Next Generation — ballet, jazz
3 p.m.: Danscompany — modern, jazz
3:30 p.m.: Gainesville Ballet Theatre
4 p.m.: Patti Markoch Band — jazz

SOUTH STAGE: MC — Shannon Singley
11 a.m.: Bill Hatfield — piano
12 p.m.: Leadon Family Band — Americana
1 p.m.: People's Band — Americana
2 p.m.: Amanda & Scott Anderson — bluegrass
3 p.m.: Foggy Creek Band — bluegrass
4 p.m.: Stava Mala —
eclectic acoustic
11 a.m.: Doug Clifford — 12 string and songs
12 p.m.: Shade Tree — acoustic variety
1 p.m.: Middle Ground — eclectic acoustic
4 p.m.: Alan Height —
guitar and harmonica

11 a.m.: Hoop & Health
11:30 a.m.: B-Magic
12 p.m.: Rainbow Tiger
12:30 p.m.: Hoop & Health
1 p.m.: Drenched in Chocolate
1:30 p.m.: B-Magic
2 p.m.: Rainbow Tiger
2:30 p.m.: Hoop & Health
3 p.m.: B-Magic
3:30 p.m.: Rainbow Tiger
11 a.m.: Rainbow Tiger
11:30 a.m.: Hoop & Health
12 p.m.: B-Magic
12:30 p.m.: Rainbow Tiger
1 p.m.: B-Magic
1:30 p.m.: Hoop & Health
2 p.m.: B-Magic
2:30 p.m.: Drenched in Chocolate
3 p.m.: Hoop & Health
3:30 p.m.: Rainbow Tiger

But this year, for the first time since its inception, the 31st annual festival is being held a month earlier, on Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Southeast First Street and surrounding areas. The festival is usually held in November on a weekend when the Gators aren't playing a home game, but with home games planned on most Saturdays this November, the festival was moved up a month to October.

Festival Coordinator Linda Piper says the event typically draws an estimated 100,000 people into Gainesville from all over Florida, and she expects a similar-sized crowd to enjoy this year's event and all it has to offer.

“This is truly a celebration of the arts,” Piper says about the festival. “There are so many communities that don't have a thriving arts scene, and we do.”

The downtown area will fill with 320 community, food and art exhibitors. Visitors can browse through the 250 artists' booths laden with paintings, ceramics, jewelry and a variety of other art forms.

Music from local bands will fill the air from three stages of entertainment situated throughout the festival. The selected bands feature a mix of jazz, country, pop and soul.

In the past, the festival kicked off with the annual Downtown Blues Concert on Friday. But this year, visitors can enjoy the regularly scheduled “Free Fridays” concert (which will feature world music groups from the University of Florida from 8 to 10 p.m. Friday), and the Downtown Blues Concert on Saturday night. Presented by the North Central Florida Blues Society, the Saturday concert starts at 7 p.m. and features singer/harmonica player John Németh as the headliner with preceding sets by the R. Mutt Blues Band and the Terraplane Blues Band.

Children can stay entertained at the Imagination Station, where art students from UF will set up free, hands-on art activities. Children also will be able to draw with chalk, paint pictures, design masks, sculpt clay and play with puppets.

Since 1996, the festival has been recognized as one of the top in the nation. Sunshine Artists Magazine ranked it as the third best festival in the state, and the 13th best fine art show in the country.

“I have seen it grow tremendously from a small show to, not only a big show, but a nationally recognized event,” Piper says. When she began organizing the event 19 years ago, the festival drew 170 artists competing for 165 spots. Now it draws 600 artists applying for 250 spots.

Bert “H.J.” Herrera has attended the festival for the last 15 to 20 years. This year, along with showing his work at booth six near the Bo Diddley Community Plaza, he also lent his image of the Baughman Center, a contemplation space near Lake Alice on the UF campus, to be used as the poster art for the 31st Annual Downtown Festival & Art Show.

Inspired by Ansel Adams, Herrera labels himself a landscape photographer of both natural and man-made scenes.

“I think people have a certain link or connection to the natural world. It sustains us all. You need to have clean air. You need to have clean water,” he says. “And Gainesville is very ecologically attuned, in my opinion, which is good.”

Herrera loves the local festival because it brings just the right mix of people to view, and hopefully purchase, his art. Prices for his photography range from $49 to $350.

“It's a wonderful community festival,” he says. “It has music. It has stuff for the kids, and it has a lot of great art. It has something for everyone.”

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