FAFO’s Fabulous 53rd Year

One of the city’s most beloved art events will include a brand-new program and perks for visitors this year.

Fine Arts For Ocala (FAFO) has been hard at work since 1966 to fulfill their mission to promote an appreciation of fine arts and enhance art education in our community. This year marks the 53rd year that the popular non-profit will present its annual Ocala Arts Festival, which brings together the community with professional artists from our own region and from across the country. The first festival took place in the vacant parking lot of what is now the Silver River Bank, while the building was still under construction. Guests reportedly navigated over two-by-fours and construction equipment to get a glimpse at the art. After the bank was completed, it played host to the event for several years.

The festival has grown in strength and size with each passing year. It now takes place over two days and across several blocks of downtown Ocala. The streets are filled with outstanding art and hands-on art activities, as well as great live music performances and a variety of food trucks and beverage options.

“We will have 156 artists from around the country, five emerging artists, 18 community booths, and $27,000 in artist award money will be given away,” explains FAFO’s president Sagi Asokan. “There will be juried student art exhibits at Citizen’s Circle and on 2nd Street, including art from kindergarteners through high schoolers from all public and most of the private schools in our area.”

The emerging artists are a new addition this year, a change from past festivals that was added to support artists who haven’t had the chance to showcase their work to buyers before.

“Sponsored by the David and Lisa Midgett Foundation, we have five emerging artists who will receive $1,000 worth of benefits: a tent, a table, chairs, their booth fee is waived and up to $250 of travel expenses are covered,” Asokan offers. “They will also be mentored by another artist, if they want mentorship, and are given a $500 stipend to help with materials and whatever else they need.”

The organization has been hard at work to ensure that this year’s festival is fresh and exciting, including more perks for patrons who join the Collector’s Circle.

“You get access to the party downtown the night before the show, a goody bag and VIP parking,” says Asokan. “The Collector’s Circle consists of people who commit to buying art ahead of the show. They buy the membership, and at the start of the show we issue them FAFO bucks. This is positive for an art show, because if we can promote that Ocala has X amount of dollars committed to art purchases, it helps interest a wider variety of artists to participate in the show.”

At the VIP party, the festival’s featured artist presents an educational talk on an art topic of their choosing. This year’s featured artist is Michelle McDowell Smith, a mixed media artist who works primarily with mixed media materials including paper, sewing patterns, handmade stamps, book pages and

acrylic paint. Her current body of work is titled Of Land and Sky, Whimsical and Free, which she has shown at more than 60 juried art shows and has earned her numerous awards.

FAFO’s Ocala Arts Festival › Saturday, Oct. 26 and Sunday, Oct. 27 10am to 5pm Downtown Ocala www.fafo.org

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