The Sanibel-Captiva Rotary Club's biggest fundraiser is set to take place this weekend at the Sanibel Community House.
The Arts and Crafts Fair, which is in its 34th year, attracted 6,000 people last year. Rotary Fair Chariman Scot Congress is hoping to surpass that number this year. Congress plans to do that by expanding the festival.
"In case the community house wasn't done in time, we rented the city park as well. Since we have all this extra space, we're going to have 10 different food vendors there for the two days," Congress said. "There's going to be a little bit of everything."
The Rotary Arts & Crafts Fair attracted 6,000 people last year.
In its early beginnings, the craft fair originally started out as a pancake fundraiser.
"For the first 10 years, it was a pancake breakfast. One of the local people brought some local artwork that either their husband or friend did, and said let's sell this as a fundraiser. It created some excitement, then the next year they tried the festival with a couple local artists and then one thing led to another. The next thing you know, we're running an art fair with about 50 artists," Congress said.
For the last three decades, the art show has attracted hundreds of artists, but only 115 are chosen to show their work.
"Our best success story about the fair is that we jury the fair. We break it up into several categories. Mixed media, jewelry, 2D, 3D and glass. We then judge all the art before it comes in, we want the art to have the right attributes for the island residents and visitors so we feel like the taste level fits the crowd," Congress said. "Consequently, what that's done is pushed us up in desirability with the artist and the locals who like to buy art work this way, they know that they're going to have a great selection of really high quality work."
First, second and third place winners will receive a monetary prize and ribbons. First place will receive free entry into next year's show, which is valued at $350. The judges are all from Florida Gulf Coast University.
Congress said that their silent auction which is held inside the Community House, plays a major role in their fundraising. This year, the Sanibel-Captiva Rotary Club will offer 200 items. Some of those prizes include tickets to sporting events, cruises, bottles of wine, jewelry and art work from people who exhibited in the show.
The club's Rotary Arts & Crafts Fair shirts will be up for sale again this year. The shirts will feature artwork on the front from local Sanibel artist, Luc Century, who is well-known for his engravings on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall in Washington. The shirts will range in price from $15 to $25.
Other goods include handmade items from Guatemalan artists. Some of those items include handcrafted bracelets, earrings, necklaces, purses and briefcases, which range from $5 to $100, all proceeds go directly to their village. The club will also be selling bags of Guatemalan coffee, all of those proceeds will go towards helping those farmers in Guatemala.
"We loan the money to the Guatemalans who farm the land. They've created a terrific business out of it, they must employ 60 people now. It makes us feel real good that we've helped. We started that with a $2,000 loan," Congress said.
The two-day art festival will take place at the Sanibel Community House, located at 2173 Periwinkle Way, Saturday, Feb. 18, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday, Feb. 19, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. There will be a shuttle running up and down Periwinkle, Dunlop and Palm Ridge Road taking attendees to the fair.
A $5 donation is suggested, while kids are free. For more information, go to sanibelartfair.com.