Six years ago, the Suncoast Arts Fest started as a small, one-day gathering in southwest Pasco County.
Since then, it has expanded to three days and spread throughout the county and beyond, with events in Hudson, New Port Richey, Dade City, Wesley Chapel and Tarpon Springs.
The most extensive is at the Shops at Wiregrass in Wesley Chapel, on State Road 56 just east of Interstate 75. That's the site of ongoing live entertainment, performing and visual artists, the Taste of Wiregrass, and more than 100 artists and fine crafts makers from throughout the United States. Hours are 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Jan. 22 and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Jan. 23.
"Last year, we had more than 100,000 visitors and 110 artists," said Marj Golub, one of the founders and an enthusiastic volunteer now. "We're working hard to make this year's show even better!"
Shops and a wide variety of restaurants will be open during the festival along the outdoor mall's winding streets. The popular chalk artists will be back, drawing temporary murals on the sidewalks as shoppers and strollers watch.
Events get going on Jan. 21, when Downtown Main Street in New Port Richey holds the Opening Night Gala, a fundraiser for Progress Energy Art Gallery. The event starts at 6 p.m. at Stilettos, 6229 Grand Blvd., with cocktails and hors d'oeuvres, continues with speakers Ralph Butler, an illustrator, and David Kastner, an artist and sculptor, then concludes with desserts at the art gallery. Tickets are $35, advanced purchase required, at either the art gallery at by calling (727) 848-6500.
On Jan. 22 and 23, the West Pasco Art Guild at Jefferson Street and Missouri Avenue will open its current exhibit, "Fantasy of Flight," from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and the Pasco Arts Council, 5744 Moog Road, Holiday, will exhibit student art from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
The Pasco-Hernando Community College art gallery, 10230 Ridge Road, New Port Richey, will be open 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Jan. 21 and 22 with its display of photographs of Florida by Madelyn McMillian-Wise. Free.
Leepa-Rattner Museum on Klosterman Road will be open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Jan. 21; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Jan. 22; and 1 to 5 p.m. Jan. 23 to show the sculpture of New Orleans artist Lin Emery ($5 adults, $4 seniors, free to students, children and members of the U.S. military).
In Dade City, the Pioneer Florida Museum will be open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Jan. 21 and 22 ($6 adults, $5 seniors, $2 students).
The museum is a remote site for the Suncoast Art Fest, and will have two classes during that weekend: "Fabric Embellishment for Art Quilts" on Jan. 22 and "Artist Trading Cards" on Jan. 23. Both classes start at 10 am. Registration fee is $25. Supplies will be provided. Space is limited (10 spaces). Call the museum (352) 567-0262 to make reservation.
In Hudson, the Polly Wogg Gallery & Labyrinth, 18522 U.S. 19, will be open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Jan. 22 and 23 with 5,000 square feet of arts and gifts, a free art print for the first 100 visitors, and free walks on the labyrinth made of hand-painted stones.