Organizers of the sixth annual Suncoast Arts Fest have their fingers crossed for good weather (at least no rain) today through Sunday, as more than 110 artists, craftmakers, entertainers and retailers gear up for the first big art festival of 2011 in Pasco County.
Warmup events start at 6 p.m. today at Stilletos at 6229 Grand Blvd. in downtown New Port Richey with drinks and snacks (tickets $35; call 727-848-6500) and artists talking about — what else? — art. Visitors can then stroll across the street to Progress Energy Art Gallery for more art talk and dessert.
In east Pasco County, the Pioneer Florida Museum will be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. today and Saturday, while the Leepa-Rattner Museum on Klosterman Road in Tarpon Springs opens from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. today, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday; the Alric Pottberg Gallery at Pasco-Hernando Community College's New Port Richey campus opens from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. today and Saturday; the Pasco Arts Council on Moog Road opens from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday; and the West Pasco Art Guild in New Port Richey opens its "Fantasy of Flight" model airplane and art from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
Things get hot (even if the temperatures don't) from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, as the booths lining the winding streets through the Shops at Wiregrass (off State Road 56 a mile east of Interstate 75) open, as do the shops and restaurants behind them.
Participants include sculptors, painters, jewelry designers, novelty art and craftmakers and photographers.
Food and drinks will be available at the 17 restaurants, coffee shops, cookie stores and bars, including Yamato Japanese Steak House and Sushi Bar, Red Robin for burgers, Moe's Southwest Grill, Cantina Laredo, Grillsmith New American Grill, 365 Cafe Italiano, the Brass Tap (more than 300 types of beer), Juice Zone (fresh fruit and veggie drinks and gluten-free food) and many others.
In addition, the Barnes & Noble will be open for browsing, while a wide array of upscale clothing, furniture, and specialty shops and kiosks will be open, including Coldwater Creek, Chico's, White House Black Market, Talbots, Pottery Barn, Victoria's Secret and Williams-Sonoma.
New this year are speed painter Tim Decker, who does large portraits of the famous at lightning pace, and a children's entertainment time from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday, featuring the Potjiekos Band and a blues-singing puppet. There will also be a kids' interactive arts area and "Emerging Artist" area for middle and high school artists.
Returning are the chalk artists, who create large, intricate drawings in the plazas and entryways throughout the outdoor mall.