By Angela Higginbotham

The Mandarin Arts Festival will celebrate its 49th annual event on Saturday and Sunday, April 15 – 16, 2017. The local nonprofit Mandarin Community Club hosts the annual Mandarin Art Festival, held every Easter weekend since 1968. Founded by Judge Westberry and a group of local artists, it’s the longest running event of its kind in northeast Florida. Depending on the weather, the festival brings in 5,000 – 10,000 guests during the two-day event.

“The Art Festival is a tradition that many families have come to enjoy over Easter weekend. It’s very exciting and a lot of fun for the entire family. It’s a special event right in the heart of Mandarin and the venue is so beautiful,” Mandarin Community Club President and Art Festival Chair Susie Scott said.

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Many volunteers give their time freely to make the Mandarin Art Festival such a huge success year after year. The Rotary Club of Mandarin plays a large role and students from Mandarin High School help out every year. Club members and local businesses also support and sponsor the festival.

“I have an amazing committee of volunteers to work with and this event would not happen without their dedication,” Scott said.

Many artists from all over the country will participate in having their masterpiece displayed in the spotlight and judged. Art will be juried in six categories: Photography, painting, sculptures/glass, jewelry, reclaimed materials and mixed media art, and functional fine crafts. Awards and ribbons will be presented to the artists. A sought-after honor to be included in the Mandarin Art Festival, artists are reviewed thoroughly before granted admission.

Entertainment for the entire family will be in abundance. A food court with many tempting treats and a green market will be available. The kids will love balloon art, face painting and a sand searching activity, among many other features. The historic Mandarin Store and Post Office will be open for tours. A troupe of dancers and singers will perform at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m on Saturday and artists will be doing live demos throughout the festival. A bake sale will help to fundraise and everyone is invited to bring a baked good to join in on the fun. Make sure the bake sale food is packaged well and clearly identified for allergy purposes. A shirt will be given to those who become a member of the Mandarin Community Club over the weekend.

Raffle prizes will also be an intriguing feature. Gift certificates to St. Augustine attractions and local restaurants, as well as dugout seats to a Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp baseball game are up for grabs. Winners will be drawn at 3 p.m. on Sunday and entrants do not need to be present to win.

The Mandarin Art Festival will run from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. on Saturday, April 15 and from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. on Easter Sunday, April 16. Parking will be plentiful, but onsite parking is not recommended. Visitors are encouraged to park at Alberts Field and take the shuttle to the Mandarin Community Club at 12447 Mandarin Road. Parking will also be available at the Mandarin Masonic Lodge and at the Church of Our Saviour at 12236 Mandarin Road.

Photo courtesy Doris Hastings

Artist Enrique Gonzalez with his painting inspired by the oak trees at the Mandarin Community Club grounds at the 2015 Mandarin Art Festival.


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