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Kids can be art collectors, too



artforkids.jpgThis weekend's Gasparilla Festival of the Arts has a special treat for kids, a special kids-only shopping tent for Art Collectors in Training.

The ACT program is for ages 6 to 14. Last year, more than 115 artists donated 400 small pieces of art to the ACT collection. Children shopped in a “kids-only” shopping zone, purchasing items priced at $5 to $10. Artwork was labeled with the artists’ names and booth locations so the children and their parents could meet with the artists face to face.

It was so popular they had to hold back some of the art for Sunday or they would have sold out on Saturday.

A mom I know took four kids to the festival last year and let them each pick one piece. She said it was neat to see the difference in tastes and to watch them talk to the artists when they found the booths. Plus, the money goes to a great cause, the Children’s Cancer Center.

Our colleague Kim Wilmath covered the event last year and I got a kick out of her story that one child, after several laps around the booth, made his selection. Smiling, he looked toward his dad waiting outside — and held up a bag of Cheez-It crackers.

His dad urged him to try again, and find something he could hang in his room.

"We probably sold 60 percent of our inventory in the first 20 minutes," organizer Brenda Gregory reported last year. "It's like we're selling tickets for the Rolling Stones."

The art festival will be open at 9 a.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. Sunday at Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park in Tampa. Now in its 42nd year, the festival features works in a variety of media by top-rated artists in the country. Artists work with a wide selection of media, including paint, ceramic, digital, jewelry and wood.

--Sharon Kennedy Wynne

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