LUTZ — As always, the 30th annual Lutz Arts & Crafts Festival is expected to be one of Hillsborough County's biggest art shows of the year, next to Gasparilla.
But while the art show is still free, for the first time this year art lovers will have to pay the county a $2 fee to get into Lake Park.
That has some of the 250-plus artists hoping the new fee doesn't put a dent in the event's typical crowd of 30,000 or more.
"We wonder how this new fee for getting in the park will affect it," said Susan Terbush, 59, a photographer from Lutz. "That's a concern. I'm hoping that people will overlook that."
On Nov. 1, Hillsborough County began charging visitors $2 per car to enter its regional and wilderness parks. Because of falling property tax revenues, Hillsborough officials have cut many programs and laid off workers. Charging a park entrance fee was a way to keep parks open seven days a week.
"The way things are working out for us now, we have to worry about the revenue," parks and recreation spokesman John Brill said. The park plans to have up to three people working the gate to move cars in as fast as possible.
Beyond the front gate, however, visitors should find the same event they've seen in the past, organizers say.
"Once you get inside, there is no other charge, except of course for the food and all those things from the different vendors," said Edwina Kraemer, second vice president of the GFWC Lutz-Land O'Lakes Woman's Club, which organizes the show.
Tampa painter Dana Andrews, making his first appearance at the Lutz show, does not expect the new fee to discourage the crowd.
"I believe if somebody really loves art, they will pay the price to come see that art," said Andrews, 42, who works as an electrician during the day. "The painting I do in the evening to relax and focus on something."
Land O'Lakes painter and musician Curtis Victor Wyka, also making his first appearance at the juried show, said he knows the economy has made people nervous about spending money, but he thinks they will buy if they see things they like.
"I expect it to be very good," said Wyka, 56, who paints landscapes, seascapes, birds, and abstract art in watercolors and acrylic.
Terbush said she is only looking to cover expenses. She has done art shows for a dozen years or more, starting with one at the old Mission Bell shopping center in Carrollwood.
Terbush can see the sign for Lake Park from her day job working as a SunTrust Bank teller. Her photos tend to feature commonplace things that many people might never notice.
"I like the overlooked things, the weeds growing on the side of a cabin," she said. A best seller is a photo she took of a gaudy plastic Santa perched atop a ladder leaning against a palm tree.
"Everybody smiles when they see it," she said. "You can't get much more Florida than that."
The Woman's Club puts proceeds from the festival back into the community in the form of scholarships for students in a youth writing contest, as well as support for the Relay for Life, Lutz Patriots and other nonprofit groups.
"I think that's what keeps me going," Terbush said. "All the (art shows) I go to, it's always supporting a good cause."
Richard Danielson can be reached at Danielson@sptimes.com or (813) 226-3403.