CLEARWATER — The Clearwater Music & Arts Festival, which takes place May 25 and 26, will for the first time offer an option to beachgoers on Memorial Day weekend.

“It’s for people on their way to and from the beach,” said Kris Koch, the Parks and Recreation Department’s manager of events and athletics. “It’s a way to offer them something a little bit different on a beach day. It’s free, so people who have had enough sun can just come and go.”

It will probably work: Just imagine all those drivers (stuck in beach traffic on the heights of the Memorial Causeway) staring down the thousands of people listening to live music and enjoying beer and other refreshments in Coachman Park.

Live bands over two afternoons, dozens of artists, and great food are just a part of the entertainment at the first what the city hopes will be an annual event. More than 30 artists will be displaying and selling their art in covered booths, and a Kid’s Zone will include face painting, slides, games and other kid activities, organizers said.

The weekend of family fun is the result of collaboration between Outlaw Nation, a free Internet music station, Generation Food Truck, and the city of Clearwater, Koch said.

“Outlaw Nation reached out to us, asking us if we were interested in hosting a two-day event,” Koch told the Beacon. “It was a date that we didn’t have any planned activity. We thought, yep, we’ll offer it as an option to the beach as a destination.”

According to its website,, the country music streaming service was born in the summer of 2013, “in the smoky honky-tonks of Myrtle Beach” during tourist season. Local bar owners, disgusted with what they considered teeny-bop sound of modern country, decided to do something about it. The bar owners and bartenders came up with a list of country musicians that were “traditional-sounding but current, relevant, and rockin’!” or so the Internet station’s origin story goes.

Outlaw Nation, which dubs itself as “your home for genuine outlaw county, Southern Rock, bluegrass, and Texas Red Dirt,” streams its music into country bars, sports bars, and western saloons across the nation. And of course, on other Internet devices like laptops and smart phones.

National recording artists, including Soul Circus Cowboys, The Swon Brothers, The Plott Hounds, Jacob Bryant, Stone Senate, the Wilson Brothers, and many more will perform on the Coachman Park stage throughout Saturday and Sunday.

For lovers of art, there will be more than 30 artists and their creations on sale in booths. The artists will be there to describe their art and methodology. Organized by local artist Dacota Maphis of the Professional Association of Visual Artists, the art walk is still accepting artists for booths.

“We have a few people haven’t got back with me yet,” Maphis told the Beacon. “It’s by invitation and it will include painters, photographers, and other media; we have a woman who creates kids clothes out of men’s button-down shirts; a really nice, wonderful artist who drew a great piece with Jimmy Buffett in front of a window with a volcano in the background, and other award-winning artists.”

Maphis said booths are still available for artists who work in clay, fiber, glass, jewelry, mixed media, photography, printmaking/drawing, sculpture, wood, acrylic, oil and other media. All work must be original, handcrafted, created and exhibited by the artists themselves; kits, imports, and mass-produced items are not allowed.

Artists who want to apply to be in the Memorial Weekend in Coachman Park can email Maphis,

The city’s Parks and Recreation Department wanted to have more than just live bands in the downtown park, so Koch reached out to food truck “broker” Generation Food Truck. The company will bring more than 20 food trucks, many of which offer gourmet food, to create the “Taste of Clearwater Food Garden.”

Budweiser also is a sponsor, so yes, there will be beer for those adults and parents who are asking.

Visitors will also be treated to classic car and motorcycle displays, a food truck rally with Generation Food Truck and a spectacular Saturday night fireworks show.