Locals have long believed the Lake Mary-Heathrow Festival of the Arts is the best event in town, and now the festival has the award to prove it
The Lake Mary-Heathrow Festival of the Arts has a lot to brag about. For starters, there are the top-notch artists and fine crafters who show and sell their work at the event. And let’s not forget the gorgeous park setting, a diverse lineup of musical entertainment, and plenty of food trucks and craft beer.
And if that wasn’t enough, festival organizers now have a new reason to crow about their popular annual event.
The Seminole County Tourism Development Council (TDC) recently named the art festival the county’s Top Entertainment Event for 2019. In December, the TDC board of directors recognized the event and its organizers for drawing visitors to Seminole County and promoting tourism here.
The festival is held for one weekend every spring at Oval Park at 900 International Parkway, attracting about 30,000 attendees over the two days. This year’s event, the 33rd festival, will be held on March 7 and 8, from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Saturday and 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on Sunday.
Those thousands of visitors have a significant economic impact on the Lake Mary-Heathrow area, helping fill local hotels, says Bryan Nipe, the City of Lake Mary’s parks and recreation director. The City partners with the festival’s all-volunteer board of directors to produce the event each year.
Organizers are especially proud of their two-fold mission, which is to present a juried arts festival of the highest caliber and to raise money for student scholarships. The festival funds scholarships for graduating Seminole County high-school students who have demonstrated an interest in the arts. A $1,000 scholarship is awarded to one student from every public high school in the county.
“The City sees a tremendous value in the festival, from the standpoints of being a great event in town and giving back to students,” Bryan says.
DeLores Lash, who chairs the Lake Mary-Heathrow Festival of the Arts board, says the event stands out from other festivals for several reasons.
“Our art festival is very popular with parents and their children,” DeLores says. “It’s relaxing, because you can walk and shop through our nice, beautiful Oval Park. You’re not crowded on a sidewalk. And, we make it very convenient with everything we have that’s available to the public, from parking, to food trucks, to activities for children.”
Nearly 200 artists and artisans will be showcased at this year’s event, which is presented by Orlando Health, with most of them competing for more than $11,000 in prize money. There is also a separate non-competitive craft area for artisans who are not vying for awards. About a dozen food trucks will be on hand to satisfy virtually every culinary craving. And, the Rotary Club of Lake Mary will be serving beer and wine, with proceeds to be divided between the festival’s scholarship fund and the club’s community outreach initiatives.
To supplement the visual arts, the festival also presents a lineup of performing-arts acts that range from youth choirs to professional musicians.
In addition to the professional art on display, the festival features a student art tent that showcases the work of Seminole County Public Schools students. Kids can also engage in hands-on arts-and-craft activities at the Children’s Creative Village near the student art tent.
Last year, the festival held a logo design contest for the Children’s Creative Village, which was won by budding young artist June Frangoul. The 11-year-old aspires to be an animator. Her winning logo will be featured at this year’s event.
Festival admission is free, and parking is available in lots across the street for a $5, tax-deductible donation. All parking proceeds will be donated to the student scholarship fund. To learn more about the festival, which is a nonprofit community event, visit LakeMaryHeathrowArts.com.
This year’s festival is March 7-8 at Oval Park in Lake Mary
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