🎨This free Sanford art fest benefits after-school program

St. Johns River Festival of the Arts takes place April 29-30

SANFORD, Fla. – More than 55,000 visitors are expected to hit the brick streets of downtown Sanford over the weekend for the 11th Annual St. Johns River Festival of the Arts.

“It takes a lot of work, a lot of coordination and it takes a lot of wonderful volunteers who help us get through it,” said Festival Treasurer Liz Darwick. “You’re going to be exposed to a lot of beautiful artwork, not only from local artists, but regional artists. We’re also adding something we’ve never done before, we are going to have an amazing butterfly display built right on First Street.”

There will be live music and entertainment, art demonstrations, food and more than 150 art exhibitors. While the event only lasts a weekend, proceeds support programs like Art for Kids year-round. Darwick said the program offers free art classes for underserved children in Seminole County.

“I think the most important aspect of what we do is that we are providing a service that they are not able to get. The public schools do not have the funding that they used to have for these programs, so we’re able to enrich their lives and give them an hour of instruction,” Darwick said.

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The after school program is held inside the historic Hopper Academy on Pine Avenue. It’s one of the few schoolhouses for Black students built in the early 1900s during segregation. The building underwent renovation and is now being used as a community center.

Darwick said it’s an honor for her to be able to offer classes to local kids with lessons taught going beyond art.

“One of the most important things we do is build self esteem because our motto is ‘There is nothing in here that isn’t a masterpiece.’ We try to teach them a high-level concept that art is subjective. I might like it, you may not, that’s the beauty of art,” Darwick said.

The St. Johns River Festival of the Arts is held Saturday, April 29 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday, April 30 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. in Historic Downtown Sanford.

The great news for families is that admission and parking are FREE.

Along with the new butterfly display at the festival, there will be an Art for Kids station with some hands-on crafts for children.

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About the Author:

Crystal Moyer is a morning news anchor who joined the News 6 team in 2020.