Thousands flock to Spring Arts Festival

The free annual event concludes today and is open from noon to 4:30 p.m.

More than 200 artists on Northeast First Street are selling their wares, from jewelry and paintings to sculptures and graphic art.

Artists can win more than $20,000 in awards and prizes.

Shelagh Forrest, a Gainesville resident, showed off her photography from time spent in northern India and Bhutan.

“It’s good to do a show you don’t have to travel for,” she said, adding she liked the festival’s location.

Forrest said she counts among her favorite photos one of her firsts: “Sweeping Beauty,” a portrait of a young Indian girl garbed in green sweeping.

“There’s a lot of beautiful art, and people should come out and support it,” she said.

The festival also features entertainment from the Gainesville Pops, the Danscompany of Gainesville and a variety of ethnic music and performers.

Joanne McFarland, a Sweetwater Branch Academy teacher, peddled pysanky, or Ukrainian Easter eggs.

“They’re real eggshells?” asked Maryann Moore, of Indiana. “Absolutely beautiful.”

McFarland said she began making the eggs after watching an episode of Martha Stewart.

“You concentrate on it so much, your mind wanders and your hands work on their own,” she said.

Kelvin Schartz said he flew from Panama to attend the show for his second time.

“The quality here is good,” he said. “There’s a nice variety of stuff.”

That includes the food, Schartz said. He stayed cool with Thai sticky rice ice cream while other vendors sold sausages, fried fish and crepes.

Schartz creates metal sculptures of flowers and other items. He said he started more than a dozen years ago.

“It’s something about fire and sparks and welding,” he said. “I guess I’m just drawn to fire.”

Youth groups, such as the Girl and Boy Scouts and the First United Methodist Church, also are raising money.

Nothing beats the Springs Arts Festival, McFarland said.

“If you like art, this is the place to be,” she said.

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