Tallahassee’s nationally acclaimed Chain of Parks Art Festival happens this weekend, April 21 and 22. This is the 18th year for the art show and sale, which has kept growing in size and reputation since its inception.
One thing that will be different about this year’s Chain of Parks Festival is that LeMoyne Board Member Kelly Dozier will not be the event’s director.
“It’s bittersweet,” Dozier smiled.”I’ve been doing this for about ten years now, so handing the ‘baby’ over to someone else has been tough, but she’s been amazing and there’s plenty for everyone to do.”
That ‘someone’ taking over as festival director is Vanessa Rowse. She said last year’s designation of the event by Sunshine Artist Magazine as the number one art and design show in the nation continues to give Chain of Parks a massive boost.
“The number one ranking is just remarkable for this area and really is a testament to the volunteers who work throughout the year and so I remain amazed every day in my job of how much has been produced every year for this festival and watching it grow the way that it has.”
Rowse added the number of participating artists in the festival has grown to essentially fill downtown Tallahassee’s Chain of Parks.
“We are at 170 this year and that’s the perfect number for us and adds some new artists and new variety, but still makes it the right size festival for the folks that are there to get good exposure from our visitors.”
Dozier, who now holds the title of event chair, remarked that it’s critical to strike a good balance of out-of-town and local talent, as well as old and new exhibitors.
“And we do have a good mix of local artists that people want to see when they come out, but each year you’re going to see a bunch of new ones because we’re always wanting to change it up so you can see something new. So there’s the tried-and-true and then the ‘Wow! I’ve never seen that before!’ so you’re going to see that this year, too.”
Speaking of local artists and supporters of the arts, Dozier said a recent addition to the Chain of Parks Festival was naming the various lanes or paths through the exhibits in honor of people who have helped make it all happen. That lane-naming tradition, she says, continues this year.
“One is going to be named after Linda VanBeck, a wonderful artist and patron of the arts in our community, and another lane is named after a patron and also a co-chair of the festival for many years, our logistics man, Charles Tunnicliff.”
The Festival has long had a musical component. Various local players typically provide entertainment during the day. But last year, organizers added a nighttime performance by a musical headliner. Director Vanessa Rowse said that will continue this year.
“The Festival hours are from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and then on Saturday we’ll have an evening show from 5 until 7. We have the Crickets who are performing this year. We’re very excited about them; they’re a female swamp/folk group band and they’re coming from Florida’s Gulf Coast. They’re really hot right now and we have a lot of people who are excited to come out and see them. Their shows are usually ticketed, so this is a great opportunity to come out and see them in downtown Tallahassee for free.”
The LeMoyne Center’s online pages: www.chainofparks.org has a full rundown about the Chain of Parks Festival coming up this weekend.