BROOKSVILLE — From paintings to sculpture, and from dancing to music. All are linked by a common bond — culture — and all will be pulled together this weekend at the Hernando County Arts Council's annual Art in the Park event.
The popular festival returns to the shaded grounds of Tom Varn Park. The juried art show, now in its 33rd year, will feature original artwork by fine art and craft exhibitors, as well as a student art exhibit, a children's hands-on art zone and two days of music, dance and theatrical arts.
"It is all about encouraging the cultural arts," said Jan Knowles, who co-chairs the event with Paul Shaskan.
About 100 artisans will be competing in the juried art show to win more than $4,000 in prize money, including a $1,000 award for Best in Show. There also will be a juried student art show, with more than 300 works from local students from elementary school through college. Prizes for the student show include $500 for Best in Show (courtesy of the Nature Coast Art League), as well as gifts.
"We have just the right amount of artists, just about 100," Knowles said. "We are really happy about the regulars who keep coming back, and we also get a lot of new fine artists coming. … And the entertainment is great this year."
Families and art lovers can bring blankets and lawn chairs to sit under the large oak trees and enjoy the entertainment that will be offered throughout the day. (A golf cart will be available to help folks get back and forth to the parking area.)
The Hernando Symphony Orchestra will return to present a free concert at 2 p.m. Saturday. The group will perform selections from its recent Spectrum concert. "The orchestra is a great partner and is a wonderful draw," Knowles said.
She said she is also excited that this year's event will include a concert with the Hernando Youth Orchestra, which will perform Sunday afternoon.
A special treat will be a visit from Terese Jones with the PERCH, an exotic bird sanctuary in Homosassa Springs. She will bring three parrots with her.
"But you have to watch out," Knowles warned. "One of them will pick your pocket."
There will be a variety of food vendors, selling a variety of items, from kettle corn, burgers and hot dogs to seafood and crepes. Some, like the Laughing Crab, will be returning, while others are new, including Crepe-A-Licious (from Sarasota) and even a "chocolate house."
Also new this year will be about 10 nonprofit community booths, where visitors can learn more about local organizations such as the Brooksville Main Street Program and the Hernando Historic Preservation Society.
"It's going to be a lovely, relaxed show," Knowles said.