By Martie Thompson
Under the historic oaks of Mandarin Road, the Mandarin Art Festival returns on March 26 and 27. Hosted by the Mandarin Community Club, this year’s festival will once again feature more than 100 national and local artists who will exhibit and sell their work.
“Over its long history, it’s become a family tradition for many to come spend part of their Easter weekend to see great art and visit with friends at the same time,” said Lynn Cuda, Mandarin Community Club’s membership chair.
The Mandarin Art Festival is a juried fine art event founded in 1968 by Judge Westberry and is a vital source of funding for the Mandarin Community Club’s preservation and education work in the area. It is the longest running event of its kind in northeast Florida.
Generations of art lovers have enjoyed strolling the aisles of painting, photography, pottery, sculpture, glasswork and jewelry over the Easter weekend. The Children’s Art Show has also become a local draw, as it features the budding artistic talent of local school children.
Changes for this year include more prize money to the winning artists as well as a new category for artists using reclaimed materials and a judges choice award.
“The planning never really stops for the festival. As the current one is ending we are already planning the next. But the real excitement begins when applications start to arrive. It’s exciting to see the work of a new artist and recognize artists from over the years,” said Susie Scott, Mandarin Community Club president and Art Festival chair.
This year’s festival will include a Green Market featuring locally sourced items, a bake sale fundraiser in the historic clubhouse building, live music and a food court. Attendees can also step back in time by visiting the 100-year-old Walter Jones Post Office and General Store, part of the Mandarin Museum & Historical Society.
As a community service at the festival, Mandarin Masonic Lodge #343 will offer the CHILD ID program of the Scottish Rite Freemasons, which gives parents the opportunity to create a kit of identifying materials for their child, free of charge.
Volunteers from the Order of the Eastern Star, the Order of DeMolay and Rainbow Girls will provide face painting and balloon art for children attending the festival.
“The Mandarin Community Club hosts a tent to provide information to festival goers who can also purchase tickets for some of the many prizes available in the prize drawing or a 2016 local artist designed festival tee shirt,” said Scott.
Organizers say the Mandarin Art Festival is a high-quality juried fine art event, enjoyed by thousands of patrons, but it is the neighborly atmosphere that brings them back year after year. The Mandarin Art Festival has become an Easter weekend tradition shared with the community.
The 48th annual Mandarin Art Festival will be held March 26 and 27 from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. each day. The Mandarin Community Club is located at 12447 Mandarin Road. Free parking and shuttle service is available. Although the Mandarin Art Festival is held outdoors, pets (except service animals) are not permitted. A $1 donation per person is requested at the gate. Visit www.mandarincommunityclub.org for more information about the Mandarin Art Festival or the Mandarin Community Club.
Photo courtesy Doris Hastings
Artist Enrique Gonzalez working on his painting inspired by the oak trees at the Mandarin Community Club grounds at the 2015 Mandarin Art Festival.