Annual Santa Fe Festival Draws Crowd of Local Art-lovers

Narayan Ghiotti wove through a crowd of people with his 6-year-old brother, Santosh, perched on his shoulders, smiling through black-and-white tribal face painting.

They meandered past parents walking hand-in-hand with tired children who dragged their feet after a long day at the 43rd annual Santa Fe College Spring Arts Festival on Saturday.

About 110,000 people walked along Northeast First Street during the two-day festival to get a taste of Gainesville’s artistic culture.

The vendors at the festival displayed their art on racks and in frames outside white tents. The art ranged from infrared photos of alligators to harps made of recycled pianos to hand-painted silk shirts.

Ghiotti, 23-year-old graphic design alumnus, brought his brother to the festival to give him an early appreciation of art.

Attempting to disappear behind his tribal face paint, Santosh said his favorite part of the festival was seeing the handmade harps.

“Coming to this shows the soul of Gainesville,” Ghiotti said.

About 200 artists participated in the festival that took place Saturday and Sunday, said Kathryn Lehman, coordinator of cultural programs for Santa Fe College.

She said of the 110,000 people who normally attend, 85,000 are residents, 20,000 are in-state visitors and 5,000 people are out-of-state visitors.

One of the vendors, Kotah Moon, sold metal sculptures of jumping lizards, crouching Buddhas and colorful mermaids.

“You need to be 25 percent artist, 75 percent gypsy and 100 percent crazy to do this,” she said.

Jake Jacob, 21-year-old UF history junior, said he’s gone to the festival for three years to appreciate the art.

“It is great we live in a community where you can enjoy something like this on a Saturday,” he said. “It gives you a scene of the hidden secrets in Gainesville.”

Article by Benjamin S. Brasch, Alligator Writer.  Contact Ben Brasch at bbrasch@alligator.org.