This is the time of year that it's fun to be outside again. And coming up the next two weekends are good reasons to do just that: the 27th annual Art Harvest in Dunedin on Saturday and Sunday and the 14th annual Christmas Under the Oaks arts and crafts festival Nov. 11.
You can tell by those numbers that these are two well-established community traditions. The thousands who turn out every year come to see each other, like at old-fashioned town picnics, as much as to enjoy the artwork.
The Art Harvest show and sale, sponsored by the Junior League of Clearwater-Dunedin and the city of Dunedin, again will be in Highlander Park at Michigan Boulevard and Pinehurst Avenue from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. both days.
Two hundred arts and crafts exhibitors from 23 states were chosen from the 400 who applied. It's that popular a show. They will vie for $15,500 in prize money.
This year's Art Harvest posters and T-shirts feature a striking, offbeat image of two egrets perched on a lawn chair. Reserved Seating, it's called by Margaret Albritton, the Placida artist who donated her work. The posters and shirts will be on sale for $10.
The Children's Creativity Tent will return, providing hands-on art experiences for young people. This is not a babysitting service but a real journey into the world of art, underwritten again by Mease Health Care.
Also featured will be a food court, with everything from conch fritters to hot dogs, and the Christmas art show in the Dunedin Art Center at the edge of Highlander Park.
A week later, on Nov. 11, the crowds will move to the Clearwater campus of St. Petersburg Junior College, on Drew Street a block west of U.S. 19, for Christmas Under the Oaks.
Many Christmas shoppers consider this event a must, with more than 200 artisans and shops displaying and selling paintings, woodcrafts, stained glass, furniture, clothing, jewelry, baskets, quilts and pottery.
Also planned are continuous entertainment _ from cloggers to belly dancers _ and a new food court.
The hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and a $1 donation is asked to enter the grounds. The sponsoring Clearwater Junior Woman's Club uses this money for such programs as its educational scholarships, center for sexual assault victims, Girls Inc. (formerly Girls Clubs), Red Cross and other worthwhile endeavors.
Wrapping things up
Marc Sacco of Safety Harbor called the other day to suggest something his family started doing about a year ago. It turns out our family has done it for many years: wrapping Christmas, birthday and other presents in old newspapers.
Oh, we still use decorative wrappings for many Christmas gifts because they look nice under the tree, but it's much more painless to tear recycled newspapers off a present than fancy wrappings that you know cost an arm and a leg.
Marc said his family members look for stories, photographs, comics and other newspaper features that are appropriate for certain people. For example, his sister wrapped a gift for him in a color picture of a firefighter because he's a volunteer one.
Some of my presents, of course, come wrapped with a funny little Editor's Note picture on the top.
Not a bad idea, right?