MARTIN COUNTY, Fla. — Martin County ArtsFest is returning with some changes and surprises on Feb 20-21.
For more than 30 years, the event has gathered artists of all kinds: performance, fine art, culinary, and music. Organizers say it has been named one of the Top 20 Events in the Southeast by the Southeast Tourism Society consecutively since 2016. This year will include Shakespearean theater. There will be musical acts featuring Bahamian, Irish, Cuban, West African, and French cultures.
“Generally it brings 8,000 to 10,000 people,” explained Martin County ArtsFest Committee Chair Paul Nunley.
This year will be slightly downsized, but the events and celebration extend beyond the location and hours of the event. The festival is following coronavirus safety protocols with hand sanitizer stations and signs reminding visitors to wear their masks. Some of the musical acts will physically move during the event so visitors don’t gather in one area to watch.
Visual artists are also offering some new components to the festival. Artist Dot Galfond has created glass turtles for this event. They’ve been scattered across Martin County public places and venues. If you find one, you get to keep the turtle and enter a raffle to win a larger glass turtle bowl. You can also purchase raffle tickets that benefit the Florida Oceanographic Society and Arts Foundation for Martin County.
“It was very hard to keep it quiet for so long, from everybody,” Galfond laughed.
She anticipates the turtles to be such a hit, something similar will be replicated in future years. The outdoor adventure connects to the environment, but also back to ArtsFest.
“What I think will be really neat is that they’re going to be taking their families out to do this and children. And there’s nothing more exciting than getting children involved in art,” she said.
Similar to other years, local restaurant chefs will compete. This year, however, the culinary component is going virtual.
“We filmed it at each individual restaurant. And it was really an amazing experience to go into the restaurant even before they opened or after they closed and film these amazing chefs,” Nunley said.
Each chef got just 20 minutes to compete and had their pick of using 5 selected ingredients. You will be able to watch the videos online, go to the restaurants to try the items, then vote online for your favorite.
“The culinary might just be the most fantastic thing because people actually get to try these dishes where in previous years they watched the chefs cook, the judges tried the dishes, now it’s up to the people to go into these restaurants,” Nunley said.
Chefs participating are from District Table in Port Salerno, Spritz City Bistro in Stuart, Dolphin Bar and Shrimp House in Jensen Beach, and Ellie’s Deli from Stuart.