The annual South Miami Rotary Art Festival is just around the corner, as hundreds of artists from across the continent, close to a dozen food vendors and several top jazz musicians are set to converge on four blocks in Downtown South Miami.
The free public event, open to all ages and taking place on Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 24-25, welcomes more than 150 local, national and international painters, sculptors, jewelers, woodworkers, glassworkers and other artistic craftspeople to display, discuss and sell their work.
“It’s a major family event whose original purpose continues to be the purpose today, which is to bring people into South Miami to see what a wonderful place it is to be and to highlight the work of the artists who make their living doing this, who travel from festival to festival and are quite good,” said Wendy Lapidus, festival chair.
Live jazz will provide a continuous soundtrack for the weekend’s festivities.
University of Miami Frost School of Music alumnus Greg Byers and his trio, whose blend of original compositions and contemporary favorites carried over past festivals, will play throughout the weekend. Saxophonist Jeff Zevac, a longtime player at the festival and instructor at the Miami Lighthouse for the Blind, will periodically join the band onstage. The trio also will serve as the backing band for an onstage jam session, open to all musicians, on Saturday until 8 p.m. in the expanded food court and beer garden.
Opening and closing the festival is the ZB Trio, led by pianist Zach Bartholomew, also a Frost School alumnus, and featuring drummer Chris Garriga and bassist Mario Cuba. The band occasionally will be joined by 21-year-old trumpet and alto saxophone player Fernando Ferrarone, a student at Berklee College of Music.
“The energy is always great,” said Lapidus, also a Rotary Club member. “[People] eat and drink more when the jazz is playing, but it’s mellow enough that it doesn’t interfere with art sales.”
The South Miami Rotary Art Festival began modestly in 1984 with only 25 booths. Now, in its 34th year, it draws up to 25,000 local and out-of-state visitors annually. Artist featured come from across the country and Canada and are chosen from hundreds of applicants by a professional jury, which judges their work during the event in exchange for $6,000 in prizes.
Festival proceeds fund college scholarships for South Miami students and local, national and international service projects, including community swimming lessons.
“It’s morphed into a really successful medium-size show,” she said. “It’s very well-orchestrated by our volunteers, and people come who have been coming since the first show. It’s a really friendly festival.”
The South Miami Rotary Art Festival begins at 10 a.m. each day. A free bicycle valet provided by Green Mobility is available on SW 57th Court; however, no bicycles, skateboards or skates are permitted inside the festival. It is a pet-friendly event, and an area for visitors to bring their pets to rest, drink water and eat also will be on-site.
For more information, visit SouthMiamiArtFest.org.