In 1974, Raquel Welch and Burt Reynolds were national heartthrobs, All in the Family was our favorite TV show, and the iconic Hello Kitty made her first appearance on a vinyl coin purse.
Forty years later, Hello Kitty still remains a strong brand and the same can be said for the Tarpon Springs Fine Arts Festival, also founded in '74.
This weekend, more than 200 artists and fine art craftsmen will set up along the banks of picturesque Spring Bayou in Craig Park, where they'll sell their wares and compete for a share of an $18,400 purse.
In addition to categories such as sculpture, fiber, metal, ceramics, glass, leather, mixed media, photography, acrylics and oils, a new category has been added at the request of photographers: digital art.
Renowned Tarpon Springs artist Christopher Still and WFTS-Ch. 28 meteorologist Denis Phillips will present awards during a Sunday ceremony at 11 a.m.
The city's first major public art installation in decades — Ama, a 6-foot-4, anatomically correct bronze mermaid created by French sculptor Amaryllis Bataille — is expected to be installed beside Spring Bayou in time for the festival.
Unlike in past years, there was no featured piece of artwork selected for use in this year's festival marketing materials. Instead, the 2014 posters and T-shirts will feature a digitally-created collage of past posters.
The festival, sponsored by the Tarpon Springs Chamber of Commerce, runs Saturday and Sunday. Admission is $5, which includes a ticket for a free drink (wine, beer, water or soft drink). There is no charge for active military and children under 12.
Organizers ask that patrons leave pets and coolers at home. Please note the boat ramp and parking lot at Craig Park will be closed from Thursday until Monday.
The popular art fest has had its ups and downs over the years, including the time a gust of wind took an artist's tent — and artwork — into the bayou, said city fire Chief Rick Butcher, who has served on the festival committee for decades.
"Once we had to shut the festival down because of lightning," he remembered.
Then there was the "Oops!" moment when city workers forgot to turn off the sprinkler system in Craig Park and the artwork got a soaking.
This will be Janet Carter's first time in the show. The Dunedin jewelry artist plans to bring at least 150 copper and sterling silver pieces with her.
"It's supposed to be the best show around," she said. "It's very well attended and people come from all over."
Organizers say about 20,000 came to last year's event.
Stop by and see wood artist Steve Walton and his clocks. The resident of Holiday creates everything from traditional wall pendulum clocks to ones that resemble abstract art. He uses exotic woods as well as repurposed timber that comes from places such as gymnasium floors or barns.
"It's my obsession," he said. "I wake up with clock plans in my head. It's great, because in retirement, I have found something that I truly enjoy."
Reach Terri Bryce Reeves at email@example.com.