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Thursday August 28th 2014

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The Great Gulfcoast Arts Festival Returns for its 38th Year
by Hana Frenette

It’s November again—time to visit the Great Gulfcoast Arts Festival downtown and look at a lot of art you probably can’t afford—or so you think.

“There are a lot of smaller ticket items at the festival this year,” said Glenda Triemer, official chairperson of the festival. “There literally is something for everyone.”

This three-day-long juried art show and festival is bringing back all its usual aspects. There will be over 200 hand-selected artists from a variety of mediums, including ceramics, drawing, fiber/wood/leather work, glass, jewelry, mixed media, oil/acrylics, photography, printmaking, sculpture and watercolor.

“We have two different processes—a first jury and a second judging,” Triemer said.

Two people with art backgrounds judge each artist individually in June and make eliminations and decide who will be showing in the festival. Then, on the first day of the festival, two different people walk around and serve as judges.

“At the end of the day they meet back up and determine the winners,” Triemer continued.

People drive from all over the Panhandle to visit this festival and see the art. Children and high school students stream in by bus on their respective class field trips. Fellow artists and art lovers alike stroll down the winding paths of Seville Square that bear designated names of artists, such as “Warhol Way” and “Picasso Street.”

“Another part that people always love is the Heritage Arts,” Triemer added.

Heritage art represents art from a simpler time—or perhaps a harder time, if you have ever watched a blacksmith or an engraver.

Artists in the Heritage section don’t just display their art, they demonstrate it for you.

Festival goers can watch a dulcimer being carved from scratch and strung right before their eyes, and maybe played, if they’re lucky.

There is also a main stage for musical entertainment, a performing arts stage for dance, and a children’s stage.

The main stage hosts a variety of acts, ranging from bluegrass, country, folk, and Cajun music.

The performing arts stage will be hosting a melting pot of cultural performances from groups and companies within the tri-county area.

Greek dancers, Irish dancers, tap dancers, cloggers, ballet, Zumba, belly dancing—if you can name it and someone else in the community happens to like it, it’s probably going to be represented on this stage.

A performing Shakespeare group, as well as the Victory Performing Arts Academy, and LaBelle Performing Arts will be putting on several performance pieces in addition to the various forms of dancing.

Aside from theater and dance, a few other community groups will be showcasing their talents as well, including the McGuire’s Pipe Band.

With more performances than a circus, twice as much food as the Pensacola Interstate Fair and all the artistic talent that the Panhandle has to offer, the Great Gulfcoast Arts Festival is definitely one of the most exciting events of the year.

“It’s the best festival in the area,” Triemer said. “It brings such a variety of fine art and music to the area, and it’s great for the kids, too.”

A separate art tent for children from K-12 is also on site at the festival.

“It gives the kids the opportunity to showcase their art,” Triemer said. “There are some younger artists that have shown in the children’s tent who have gone on to participate in the juried exhibition.”

So whether you go to see the art, hear the music, eat the food, or just to take the kids, the festival makes for a laid-back weekend that can be easily afforded and enjoyed by all.

“It’s just too much fun,” Triemer said. “It’s good for the community to be able to meet and greet and enjoy some great music and wonderful art.”

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