St. Johns River Festival of the Arts brings nearly 140 artists to Sanford this weekend

Downtown Sanford is bustling with people on most weekends but will be especially busy with a flurry of music, arts and visitors wandering the historic brick streets this weekend.

The St. Johns River Festival of the Arts is back for its 13th annual event, with nearly 140 artists setting up booths in downtown Sanford from April 27-28. The city’s thousands of visitors can explore sculpture, jewelry, mixed media, photography, painting, leatherwork, woodworking and more.

Kim House, the festival’s president, said Sanford’s unique charm helps inspire people to attend this event.

“I think the setting in Sanford has a lot to do with it. There’s free parking, and everything is accessible within a couple of blocks,” she said. “The community is really receptive to this event. They really care about it and want it to be in Sanford. That feeling gets passed onto the visitors.”

Proceeds from the event will benefit Art for Kids, a scholarship program that provides young artists in Seminole County with studio space, transportation, and instructors.

As a former artist herself, House said that creators and guests alike appreciate having space between booths and room to spread out throughout the festival.

“We want artists to be able to use the sides of their tents. We want for there to be breathing room in between tents,” she said. “An advantage of our festival is it isn’t too big. It can be overwhelming when you go to a festival that has 300 booths in it.”

Local, regional and national artists will vie for $15,000 in prizes, including a $3,000 Best of Show award, two $900 Juror’s Choice awards, eight Awards of Excellence of $800 each and eight Awards of Distinction of $500 each.

In addition to browsing a wide selection of high-quality art, visitors can explore a food court, craft beer, art workshops, live music and entertainment. Live demonstrations, including woodturners and weavers, can give guests an insight into how art is made.

Whether visitors are just browsing or planning to buy a new piece for their home, House said the event aims to be as accessible as possible.

“You can find things for $20 or things for $15,000,” she said. “We’ve been voted in the top 200 art shows in the Southeast by artists. That’s a big feather in our cap.”

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If you go

The St. Johns River Festival of the Arts is open 10 a.m.-6 p.m. April 27 and 10 a.m.-5 p.m. April 28, with festivities centered on 1st Street in downtown Sanford. The festival is free to attend; Sanford has plenty of options for free parking. Pets are not allowed. For more information, visit