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Winter Park Sidewalk Art Festival returns with more than 200 artists
By Patrick Connolly, Orlando Sentinel,
An annual fine arts tradition is back this weekend for its 64th year, drawing hundreds of artists and tens of thousands of visitors to Central Florida.
The Winter Park Sidewalk Art Festival returns March 17-19 with 212 artists showing sculpture, digital art, photography, leather, jewelry, wood, printmaking and more. The family-friendly festivities draw an estimated 250,000 to Park Avenue throughout the weekend.
“It’s the City of Winter Park in the spring, it’s the loveliest place to be,” said Greg Witherspoon, the festival’s co-president. “We’re a festival that’s able to attract some really wonderful artists. We focus on making sure they have a great festival.”
Part of the appeal to artists, some of whom travel from across the country for this weekend, is the amount of prize money available for the top creators. Cash awards total $76,500 with $12,000 on the line for the artist chosen by judges as Best in Show.
A new $2,000 prize has been added this year in memory of a longtime festival board member: The Monte Livermore Celebration of Nature Award , which recognizes a work of art that features nature in the form of flowers, trees, plants and landscapes.
Certain award winners from last year’s festival are invited to return; all other artists must rise to the top in the competitive juried selection process. The 2023 event also highlights four emerging artists who can participate in their first outdoor festival at no cost.
“This year, we’re going to have more than 30 first-time artists displaying their work in the festival who’ve never been here before. I think that’s generating some excitement, Witherspoon said. “This year, everyone who was invited back is returning as well.”
Part of what makes the Winter Park Sidewalk Art Festival special is the location along picturesque Park Avenue and the city’s passion for the arts. This is on full display through the Patrons Program , which grants the festival’s monetary supporters “Art Bucks” to spend on art at the festival — an estimated $85,000 in total this year.
“We have patrons who come back year after year; it’s just one of those things that everybody looks forward to in the springtime,” Witherspoon said. “Last year, some artists had their best year ever, which is super pleasing to us because that means we’re doing a good job.”
If you go
The Winter Park Sidewalk Art Festival is open 9 a.m.-6 p.m. March 17-18 and 9 a.m.-5 p.m. March 19 on Park Avenue in Winter Park. The festival is free to attend; pets are not allowed due to a City of Winter Park ordinance. Food and children’s activities are available at the event. For more information, visit wpsaf.org .