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Largo’s Art Hop benefits library foundation
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Photo courtesy of SCOTT THOMPSON
The Lisa Casalino trio entertains the crowds gathered at Largo Public Library for the Art Hop 2013.
LARGO – The annual Art Hop and Taste Fest on Saturday, March 8 brings together Largo’s top artists and performers with some great food and entertainment.

Organizers are confident that the event, one of the Largo’s premiere social events of the year, will raise the money needed to help with the city’s library. Scott Thompson, CEO of the Greater Largo Library Foundation and the chief organizer of the event, explained that the money raised goes straight to the library.

“We fund programs at the library that the city budget does not cover,” he said. “We support the English Second Language learning center, we buy mobile carts so people can get around, and we financed the wireless communication system so the employees can communicate without having to go to a phone.”

Here’s how the Art Hop works. Residents pay $35 in advance or $40 at the library door on Saturday at 6 p.m. Then everyone gets on a bus tour to four different locations in the city: McGill Plumbing, Side Door Antiques, Largo Feed Sore and the Pinecrest Retirement Village. At each stop, a different artist’s work will be on display for those on the bus so they can look over the offerings and purchase something if they wish.

By 8 p.m., the tour will conclude back at the library where 25 other artists and performers will be gathered.

Georgia artist Jace McTier is the featured artist of the event. Also featured will be Rising Star artist Lisa Bagley, an art teacher from Largo High. Jazz singer Lisa Casalino of Tampa will provide the entertainment for the evening.

This year’s event will include art displays from the students from Largo High, Largo Middle School and Largo Elementary.

In addition, there is food sampling and, according to Thompson, a rather large silent auction.

“We have over 100 items for bid in the auction,” he said. “There are such things as massage packages, golf packages and boat cruises.”

McGill Plumbing general manager Shane Wood said he is only too happy to participate in the Art Hop.

“It is important to get involved in the community,” he said. “The Largo community has been good to McGill Plumbing for a long time, and now that I’m in a position to help, I will. Anything we can do to get people out and about we will do it. I want to help out.”

Wood is excited about the event.

“We have a great venue here to host an artist and display the art. It will be good to have people come through here and be part of the festivities,” he said.

This is the first year Wood will participate in the event, but already he can foresee getting involved next year.

“I don’t see any reason to think I wouldn’t get involved,” he said. “I like what the library foundation is doing and if it is going to help support the local library, then I’m all for it.”

The library foundation started in 1987. This will be the seventh year the foundation has run the Art Hop, bringing in lots of funds to support the library.

“We’re looking at making around $20,000,” said Thompson. “It is our main fundraiser of the year.”

As much fun as it sounds, Thompson said it isn’t easy to put together the event year after year.

“It really takes a good group of volunteers about a year to put it together,” he said. “We will start working on next year’s event in May.

Thompson also is quick to point out that it takes generous sponsors to make it happen as well. In addition to the four participating sponsors, the foundation also has the help of a group of main sponsors. They are Raymond James, Largo Medical Center, C1 Bank and the Palms of Largo.

Thompson said that despite the work that goes into making the event happen, it is all worth it, not just for the monetary return but also for what it does for the community.

“At the end of the night you feel good,” he said. “It is a great event where people have a great time, and it is rewarding to see people leave happy knowing they have supported the library and the foundation.”
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