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Lake Wales Arts Festival Celebrating 50th Anniversary Feb. 20-21

More than 50 Artists to Exhibit on the Shores of Lake Wailes

More than 50 artists will exhibit in the 2021 Lake Wales Arts Festival on the shores of Lake Wailes lake Feb. 20-21. The event is even more special this year as the festival celebrates its 50th anniversary.

"We're one of the first art shows back in the whole country, especially in the state of Florida," said Andrew Allen, executive director of the Lake Wales Arts Council. "The quality of art will also go up dramatically since we're not taking as many artists."

The free festival will be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 20 and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 21. To obtain a city permit for such a large-scale event, the Lake Wales Arts Council had to submit a plan to show precautions to ensure attendees would be safe during the pandemic.

The Council developed a strategy to follow CDC, local, state, and federal health guidelines. The outdoor event will have a socially distanced art walk, with artist tents spread further apart in a larger, open green space. Masks will be required for all vendors, staff and volunteers. Hospitality areas also will be distanced and special hand sanitization stations will be set up throughout the entire festival.

"We hope that you will help us in our efforts to keep the arts safe and accessible during this global health crisis by wearing a mask and maintaining social distance which we know is vital to the health and safety of our entire community," Allen wrote to potential attendees. "Thank you for being our partner in health and in fine arts."

To expand the 50th anniversary celebration, the annual Art-B-Que from 6 to 9 p.m. Saturday will be free to the public. Attendees can bring their own chairs and enjoy live music and the art show awards presentation at 7 p.m. Food will be available for purchase from Blue Dog Craft Barbecue, with beverages from Grove Roots Brewing Company. Food and beverages are included with purchase of VIP access passes.

The annual Patron's Breakfast, by invitation, will take place Saturday starting at 8 a.m. Student Art Show awards will be presented at 10:30 a.m., limited to winning students and their families to ensure safe, social distanced event. Rotary on the Ridge again this year will host free breakfasts on Saturday and Sunday for the artists.

Artist Jeff Ripple has exhibited at the Lake Wales festival for 15-20 years, though not concurrently. Originally, he said, it was a one-day show, where artists would set up Friday and tear down Saturday. Artist were given free tickets to Bok Tower for Sunday. Ripple said moving to a two-day show format gave the festival more exposure, allowed increased advertising and attracted people from a wider area.

"I think the most positive things about the show are what has not changed. The show has retained its intimate, hometown feeling over the years, which is one of the things I appreciate most about it. I love the park setting by the lake, and I have known many of the people I see every year at the show for years and years," Ripple said. "The artist awards are generous, and I have to commend the show committee on its ability to get sponsors to support those every year. The show volunteers always make artists feel welcome, particularly with home-baked cookies and orange juice at check-in. As an artist at this show, you feel part of a large family."

Those purchasing the VIP Access Pass, which is $100 for adults and $25 for children under 12, will receive a variety of perks throughout the festival, including: a private happy hour event from 6-8 p.m. Friday, Feb. 19 at the Lake Wales Arts Center, a VIP lunch from noon to 2 p.m. Saturday, food and beverages at the Art-B-Que from 6 to 9 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 20, an ice cream social by Chief's Chill Out from noon to 2 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 21, VIP parking passes, luxury lounge seating and free sodas, water and popcorn at the arts council information booth throughout the weekend. VIP passes can be purchased at

The arts festival relies on many community volunteers and sponsors, including: Polk State College, Oakley Transport, Visit Central Florida, Petersen Industries, de novo art, AdventHealth, Bunting, Tipp & Ingley, Publix Charities, Promo, Florida's Natural, Warner University, The City of Lake Wales, Grove Roots Brewing Company, Kathryn's Christian Books, Bok Tower Gardens, Florida Literacy Coalition, Inc., The Story Companies, Hampton Inn & Suites, Action Signs + Advertising, John & Laura Motis, and Brawley Wealth Management Group.


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