Art Festival at Mercato begins this weekend

Reporter: Gina Tomlinson Writer: Drew Hill

Events are beginning to return to Florida, with several happening this weekend. One of those being Art Festival at Mercato in North Naples.

The pandemic has really hurt the artist community but dozens will get to showcase their work this weekend. It’s providing relief for many.

Richard Sullivan is the Director of Art Festival at Mercato.

“We were one of the last shows last march in the entire country that we did in Bonita then the following week every art festival in the country was canceled up until August,” said Sullivan.

But now, artists like Steve Brewster, have the opportunity to display their art again. “I’ve been doing this for 38 years so art shows are how I make a living,” Brewster said.

The festival has everything from jewelry, to large life-sized paintings to fused glass and it will cover the green space at Mercato.

Some of the 40 artists at the festival setting up their work for the first time since the pandemic began.

“Put it in perspective I’ve had two shows in 11 months so it’s affected me tremendously… like 90 percent,” Brewster said.

Many large conferences and conventions are still on hold at the places like the Ritz Carlton while other spots, like Off The Hook Comedy Club are back, full throttle.

“We have opened back up, we’re at full capacity! We’ve have sold out shows on a weekly basis with some of the best talent we’ve ever had!” said the general manager of the comedy club.

Recently, the City of Naples has allowed for Christmas on Fifth and the annual boat show.

But Naples Fire Chief Pete Dimaria says nothing will happen without careful scrutiny. “Whether it be the maximum amount of people allowed in their events or how far they put their tents apart, mask-wearing stuff like that,” Dimaria said.

Booths are spaced apart, there are signs up to remind visitors of social distancing and masks are being worn. Plus, this is an outdoor event.

Art Festival at Mercato is running Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

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