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ArtsFest 2018, which took place in Downtown Stuart and Memorial Park the weekend of Feb. 10-11 was filled with great experiences, made even more enjoyable by picture-perfect weather.

Great artists who work in many media displayed their entries — congratulations to the Best of Show Artist, painter Clovis Rusk. Jim and Tess Dirks of Stuart Stained Glass were ArtsFest 2018 featured artists. They created a 3D-stained glass piece that was used on festival merchandise and represented Stuart’s famed sailfish front and center. All local high schools had booths where visitors were wowed with the talent that has been supported, nurtured and created in the students.

The fourth year of CHOPPED!, always a crowd favorite, featured the first female chef to enter the competition, Jackie Vitale from Ground Floor Farm. Top chef award went to Chef Jose Peralta of the Chef’s Table. Judges tasked with the difficult job of choosing just one winner included Mike Terrio, Lorna Day and last year’s winner, Jake Reynolds.

The kids had all the best things! Treasure Coast Cosplayers brought Harry Potter to life at ArtsFest with Dumbledore, Sirius Black and other characters who engaged with the young attendees. Other popular activities included a “Making Your Own Instrument” area, courtesy of the Atlantic Classical Orchestra, and sock puppets with Duck in the Truck Puppets.

The Main Stage offered music, dance and drama in many different genres and a Literary Village featured readings from local authors who had written short essays and poems for the 3rd Annual ArtsFest Literary Competition. Winners included Christie Page for poetry and Kathleen Spalding for short story - submissions to be printed in the upcoming Fall/Winter edition of MartinArts Magazine. 

Evening brought the 1990s to life, with an exciting concert that featured Cracker. Duo co-founders David Lowery and Johnny Hickman have a quarter century’s worth of hit music and sold-out live performances.

ArtsFest is an experience and a celebration of the arts. It’s a tribute to the creativity and talent of local residents as well as a Mecca for visiting artists and artisans — a success all the way around.

Everyone is looking ahead already to ArtsFest 2019, which will be held the weekend of Feb. 9-10 at the same locations. The event is an affordable treasure on the Treasure Coast, priced to allow everyone to attend.

Monies raised support the year-round programs of the Arts Council of Martin County, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization inspiring a passion and participation in the arts in our community.