DUNEDIN — If worries about supply chain issues and worker shortages have been causing you angst in the run-up to the holiday season, help is on the way!
One-of-a-kind, affordable gifts will be plentiful at the 28th annual Downtown Dunedin Craft Festival, set for Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 20-21, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., on Main Street in Dunedin. Admission is free. Visit www.ArtFestival.com for details.
The free, two-day event will showcase a variety of unique gifts. Nature-inspired jewelry and art, candles and cups, handmade soaps and thousands of other affordable, creative creations will be available all weekend from more than 200 craft artisans.
Presented by American Craft Endeavors, the fun, outdoor craft festival offers a chance for residents and visitors to peruse and shop for practical and whimsical works of quality crafts in the pedestrian-friendly setting of downtown Dunedin. The event is pet friendly for leashed animals, and includes a full green market of live plants, handmade soaps, delicious edibles and more. Each artisan is on-site during the entire festival, allowing patrons to meet and to discover the techniques and inspirations behind each piece.
This juried outdoor craft extravaganza features a vast array of artistic media, including folk art, pottery, personalized gifts, handmade clothing, basket weaving, beaded utensils, candles, cork assemblage, fabric design, fiber quilts, waxwork and glass, hair accessories, handbags and accessories, handmade cards, leather, mosaic, wood, painted wood, plaster craft, stained glass.
The original crafts are handmade in America with prices set to suit all budgets.
Cheryl Grogan, a Tampa resident, is among the craft artisans taking part in the two-day festival.
According to Grogan’s artist statement on her website, she enjoyed painting and drawing as a kid growing up in Massachusetts.
“I pretty much majored in art through junior high and high school,” she explains. “I attended Southeastern Massachusetts University in Dartmouth and then joined the Army for four years in the ’80s. It was a great experience and I lived in Europe for two years and really got to travel and take lots of pics and meet interesting people in between working.”
After her stretch in the military, Grogan relocated to Tampa and finished her BFA with a concentration in photography.
“I loved spending time in the darkroom,” she says. “Being a veteran and broke college student in the late ’80s, I got hired by the post office while finishing my degree at the University of South Florida.”
While working at the post office, Grogan started freelancing, painting murals, and showing her photos in galleries. She also started painting again. After testing the waters for a year, she decided it was time to jump ship and head out on my own.
“I have been self-employed for approximately 15 years now,” she says. “I do art shows in Florida now and the southeast. I also paint murals and enjoy commissioned works as well. I paint architecture and cool car portraits.”
Also participating in the festival will be June Kelley of New Port Richey.
Kelley started creating dog accessories about 14 years ago. She did a quick tie blanket for a cold friend and after getting so many compliments, she made an entire set as gifts for Christmas. That led to children's clothes and by extension, an outfit or two for beloved "fur babies."
Following an outpouring of requests for more pet-related designs, she eventually created a "pooch bag," custom sling. Since then, she has expanded to raincoats, hats and more. She moved to the area in 1987 from New Jersey, and does the shows with her certified service support dog, Rusty.
Mike Williams of St. Petersburg is known for his custom map art.
“I would have to say I am more of a professional daydreamer than an artist,” Williams said in a press release promoting the festival. “Instead of paying attention in class, I would daze off thinking of far off places, which were more interesting and exciting than a classroom.”
Two weeks after graduating, he started working as a carpenter, building homes on the shores of Lake Erie. After three years of this, he knew this was not going to be his path in life.
“I started concentrating on what I loved years earlier, drawing,” he said. “I took a chance one Saturday morning and walked door-to-door offering to create renderings of the many summer cottages as well as their boats to the weekend vacationers. It took off from there.”
The gamble paid off. Not only did Williams get his name out there quickly, but it allowed him to quit his full-time job and focus on what he loved.
“I figured to be an artist I should have a degree in art,” Williams said. “I took my portfolio, walked into several well-respected colleges, and asked the art professors for their opinions on which direction I should go.”
Williams received an answer he was not expecting.
“They told me not to go to school, and that there was nothing they could teach me that I did not already know.”
From there, Williams went on to open a small gallery on Catawba Island, Ohio.
“For three summers I successfully ran my shop, but something was missing: freedom,” he said. “I was married to it. Having set hours that I had to be somewhere seven days a week quickly became no fun. I would exhibit my work at shows along Lake Michigan as well as Lake Erie throughout the summers as well.”
Williams got wind of all the shows held in Florida during the winter months, and he decided to give it a try.
“There was endless inspiration to be found in Florida, and after two years of driving up and down Route 75, I decided to make it my new home,” he said. “It has afforded me to enjoy the most important part of what I do for a living: freedom.”
About American Craft Endeavors
American Craft Endeavors produces some of the nation’s most exciting high-end juried craft shows in many of Florida’s vibrant downtown areas and popular tourist destinations including the Siesta Key Craft Festival in Sarasota; and the Downtown Venice Art Festival and Craft shows in Venice. The group’s founders personally select unique, culturally rich cities and towns for their show locations, providing a complete outdoor experience unmatched by other festivals. All crafters are hand-selected from hundreds of applicants in order to ensure a superior event featuring diverse art media and the highest quality of original handmade crafts.
For additional information on the Downtown Dunedin Craft Festival and other American Craft Endeavors craft shows, visit www.artfestival.com or call 561-746-6615.