The 33rd Annual Art in the Park was a wonderful experience. I had the opportunity to go to the event this past Sunday, and was amazed at just about every aspect of the art show. Held at Tom Varn Park, local artists, as well as those from around the state and across the country, lined the paved walkway that meandered through the beautiful location.
Jan Knowles is the Projects Coordinator with the Hernando County Arts Council (HCAC), and has worked with Art in the Park for about 15 years. When we spoke, she explained some of the history behind the event and how it came to be.
“In 1984 a man named Larry Whidden, in Masaryktown decided to put on an art show. We were just forming,” she said. She explained that the art show took place there for a number of years and eventually moved to Tom Varn Park when the event had grown larger. “This is our big event and the proceeds from this event go to our community grants that we give out every year.”
Next to the Hernando County Arts Council tables, was a tent called the, “Arts Council Boutique.”
“These artists donate a little something and they put a price on it – what they feel the value is – and they donate it to us for our community grants, for our student art, and everything. That’s where that money goes, specifically,” Mrs. Knowles said.
As listed in the program, some of the things featured for the afternoon on Saturday included Suzuki Strings, Stir up the Gift Talent Review, The Hernando Symphony Orchestra, and Fuzed Elements Jazz Ensemble. Sunday’s schedule featured the Live Oak Theatre Troupe and the Hernando Youth Orchestra. The music that was sung and played on site at the event, drifted over the tents as individuals viewed the wide variety of vendors and artisans present. Food vendors were on site as well.
Booths represented a number of art styles and mediums, including painting (on canvas and other surfaces like wood or gourds), drawing, photography, wood carving, sculpture, jewelry, and other handmade crafts. There were many other booths as well, featuring plants, honey, décor, and a bird sanctuary, to name a few.
Later in the afternoon around 3:00p.m., an awards ceremony celebrated the talented artists who were in attendance. The ceremony recognized the winners for first, second, and third place and the honorable mentions. The judge for Fine Arts and Crafts was Joyce E. Cusick and the judge for Student Art was Roger Carlton Sherman.
In addition to the awards for those artists, the ceremony also included two other awards. Emilio “Sonny” Vergara, Chairman of the HCAC presented and awarded certificates of appreciation to HCAC Projects Coordinator and Co-Chair of Art in the Park, Jan Knowles as well as HCAC Vice Chairman and Co-Chair of Art in the Park, Paul Shaskan.
Mr. Shaskan, who has worked on Art in the Park for 5 years, and Mrs. Knowles who has worked on it for 15 years, produced an incredible community event.
“We really work hard on this. These two individuals literally put this thing together, and so I’m very proud to be able to present these,” Mr. Vergara said.