Clear blue skies and cool crisp air drew crowds to the 36th Annual Thornebrook Art Festival during the weekend.
“You can’t beat the time,” said festival visitor Cameron Wilson.
Wilson spent the fall Sunday afternoon walking around enjoying art with Cookie, his 4 month old Australian Shepherd Poodle mix. He has lived in the area for almost 20 years, but said it was his first time attending the festival. Participants waded through many socially remote booths and booths while mingling and munching on Old Fashioned Original Kettle Korn. Cookie ate pieces of popcorn that fell from the ground.
Last year, the annual Thornebrook Art Festival was one of many activities and traditions put on hold in the name of public safety in 2020 due to COVID-19. Thornebrook is now adapting to new ways of operating.
“We’re trying to make it as good as possible under the current circumstances,” said Joe Dorsey, co-owner of Hoggtowne Music store and artistic director of the festival.
Dorsey’s main goal for the event this year was to bring people in to support the artists, even if it was only through their participation.
“I 110% believe that we are a community,” said Dorsey. “We are not just a unique group of people. These people, more than any other group of people, have been absolutely laid off economically with COVID and the shutdown. “
The festival, which takes place in the center of the village of Thornebrook, is steeped in history for both the visitors and artists.
“Some of the artists have been a part of this for almost two decades,” Dorsey said. He added that some festival visitors come regularly, eager to see the art created by new sellers.
The festival was held October 16-17 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and had the same artists, food and activities for both days.
Entertainment was varied and included performances by guitarist Eric Diamond and the Gainesville Youth Community Jazz Ensemble on Sundays. Local restaurantsón and Bageland opened during the festival.
Tiffany Nader has brought her jewelry to Thornebrook and other craft shows across Florida for the past six years. In years past, her mother helped her make the parts. This year his father helped set up his booth for the event.
“I love the location and love the place,” Nader said. “I love to see everyone walking around enjoying our art.”
Nader creates themed necklaces and bracelets inspired by Halloween, Christmas and the Florida Gators. She buys the beads to make her jewelry from other small businesses.
Besides the jewelry stands, other stands included specially colorized photographs, historical postcards and sets of wooden kitchen bowls.
Dorsey oversaw the backstage operations, including the planning of vendors and artists for the event.
“Everyone makes it look a lot harder than it actually is,” Dorsey said. “It’s really not that difficult.”
According to Dorsey, around 70 salesperson applications were received to fill the booths. They also left a few spots available for last minute applications.
The lack of festivals at the height of the pandemic made it difficult for artists to support themselves financially. Many events, just like Thornebrook, had to skip events scheduled for 2020.
“It was difficult, but I fully understand that they had to do what they had to do,” Nader said.
Because most artists are independent contractors, they have not qualified for most pandemics.
related assistance that other small business owners are entitled to.
Dorsey thinks it’s important to have an art show because so many others have been canceled, which has made the financial hardship caused by the pandemic even more difficult.