Wacky weather doesn’t dampen spirit of Sebastian festival

In spite of curtains of rain, wind and tornado watches the day before, the opening day of the 15th Annual Sebastian Riverfront Fine Art and Music Festival dawned and remained sunny and blue.

Traffic, same as last year, was at a dead stop on US 1 and, by midday, it took a full hour from the south end of Indian River Drive, to find a parking spot, some folks hoofing it from about a mile away.

Exacerbating the parking issues was the Friday downpour that muddied up about half the park’s southside grass field, rendering it “unparkable.”

Once in, it was great! Hundreds of people filled the sidewalks along Indian River Drive and the north edge of the park, everyone doing the “Step, Step, Stop” maneuver though the slow moving crowd, peering into the white-topped tents side-by-side on either side.

There were 130 artists displaying their works this year, plus several food vendors and information tents set up in the grassy, slightly soggy, field on the east side of Indian River Drive. The portable stage and bleachers were also set up in the grass, and live music filled the air, accompanied by the tantalizing aromas of popcorn and sausage and pepper sandwiches.

Despite of the damp grass in front of the stage, several determined couples were dancing, inspired by the traditional, perfectly country-twangy stylings of The Cheyenne Band.

The diversity and quality of the art was impressive, and the artists themselves were quick to credit Festival Director Lisanne Robinson, an artist herself.

Bonnie Eastwood has displayed her hand-painted gourd baskets at the Festival “for so many years. This is always a great show. Why? Because it is run by an artist!”

Holly Hambrick, of Ormond Beach, was displaying her fanciful, colorful mixed media works at the Festival for the first time.

“I love this,” she declared. ”It’s so relaxed. The committee has been so helpful, and so enthusiastic. They make it easy.”

Robinson herself simply said, “It is different when artists run the show because we understand what it’s about. Other art shows are about the event, about the sponsors. I make sure my artists’ needs are met. I pamper them. Many of them are good friends, have been doing this for years.”

She had high praise for the stalwart City crew who worked hard to pump out the 18 inches of water that covered much of the show ground on Friday. “They were spectacular!”

Around 1 p.m., virtually every tent had a nice handful of people browsing in it, and artists were answering questions about their media, their inspirations – and their prices.”

“That’s really bizarre!” declared a lady, glancing into a particular tent. She wore aqua shades and sported a neat blonde and purple bob. “I love bizarre!”

From painting and carvings of pelicans on posts, to hand-painted wooden eggs to cozy knitted mohair hats and shawls, to pottery, jewelry, clothing, leather goods , fiber art– there was something for everyone’s taste.

Aimee Dieterle had travelled from Melbourne to show her bright acrylics at the Festival for the first time; metal sculptor Ron Lemoie delighted passers-by with his sassy little fish trio playing banjo, bongos and accordion. Jack Hall, who favors the humble Three Blind Mice in many of his fanciful works, casts them in bronze and places them on old roller skates, flat irons, door hinges and other unorthodox rodent vehicles.

Lorri Honeycutt sculpts tiny clay people, juxtaposes them with tomatoes, celery, watermelons then photographs them, with humorous, charming result.

Weather not withstanding, the 15th Annual Sebastian Riverfront Fine Art and Music Festival was another well-run, well-attended success, and a nice fluffy feather in Sebastian’s cap.

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