Lakeland’s Mayfaire-By-The-Lake is celebrating its 51st year this weekend. The premiere outdoor, juried, fine arts festival is free to attend and organized by the Polk Museum of Art. It will be held from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, the same weekend as Mother’s Day, along the shores of Lake Morton in downtown Lakeland.
“Mayfaire weekend is one of the most special times of the year and one of the most awaited events of the season,” said Dr. Alex Rich, Exec. Director of the Polk Museum of Art at Florida Southern College.
“This is a good opportunity to purchase artwork by skilled artisans. It is held during Mother’s Day weekend so that people can take advantage of spending time with their family,” said one of the coordinators, Joy Williams.
This year, there will be 156 artist booths featuring a wide variety of art for sale, including sculpture, photography, jewelry and paintings. Fifty of the artists are newcomers this year, festival coordinators said. The participating artists are coming from as far away as New York, Michigan and Indiana.
“We are excited to have Harlow Manning and her mother, Daphne Manning attend this year. Last year, Harlow, who is 14 years old, won a Merit Award. This year, her mother, Daphne was accepted into the show with her floral oil and acrylic work. Harlow is a mixed media artist and paints adorable animal creatures. Trent Manning, Harlow’s father, used to be one of our Mayfaire artists for many years,” Williams said.
What’s New This Year
There are several changes this year but also many popular and familiar returning events, organizers said. The Ruthven Kids Zone will be located at Chiles Street again; organizers said they’re bringing back the hands-on arts and crafts activities.
“Kids Collect is returning this year. This tent is where kids ages 6-14 can purchase artwork donated by Mayfaire artists for a nominal price. All proceeds will benefit the Polk Museum of Art’s Summer Camp Scholarship program,” Williams said.
Featured Artist and Poster
Harrison School of the Arts graduate Alex Lanier is the featured artist this year. Lanier is “an award-winning, published artist with a background in architecture,” according to the festival website. His current artwork can be described as “travel-inspired pop surrealism.”
After graduating from Harrison School of the Arts, Lanier attended Florida International University’s School of Architecture. Red Design Group hired him to work as an artist. He went on to work as a freelance artist in Los Angeles, creating illustrations, storyboards and concept arts for several major studios. Lanier recently opened a studio in Tallahassee. He works as a freelance digital artist, creating art for collectors and clients across the world. .
Laniers was chosen as the featured artwork artist for his futuristic vision of Mayfaire, organizers said.
“He is our first digital art poster artist that we have featured. He will have a virtual reality experience at his booth during the show where you can immerse yourself within the image with 3D goggles,” Williams explained, adding that Lanier will be located at booth 50.
Here is Williams’ poster for Mayfaire 2023:
The 2023 Mayfaire judge is Elizabeth Flinsch, who is a curator, artist and editor of SHOTS Magazine, which is based in St. Paul, Minnesota. SHOTS features black and white photography. As the editor, Flinsch curates submissions and selects artists to be interviewed for the magazine. She also oversees the design of the magazine.
Flinsch studied printmaking and has a master’s degree in Multidisciplinary art from the Maryland Institute College of Art.
If you can’t find parking on the side streets near Lake Morton, parking is available at Florida Southern College on Frank Lloyd Wright Way. Shuttles will pick up guests and take them to the festival. Directions to the festival from Tampa and Orlando can be found on the festival’s website.
Three Citrus Connection Squeeze eight-passenger golf carts will also take festival-goers from downtown parking lots to the Mayfaire site. The shuttles will operate from 8:45 a.m to 4 p.m. both days of the festival, according to Citrus Connection Executive Director Tom Phillips.
Organizers encourage attendees to support the food trucks on site, as a portion of the sales benefit the Polk Museum of Art. The trucks can be found throughout the show. Food options range from kettle corn, to ice cream, to gourmet crab cakes.
According to the festival website, food truck vendors such as The Crepe Company, Chief’s Cantina, and Jimmy’s Famous Seafood will be in attendance. The festival partners with the Tampa Bay Food Truck Rally to curate food selections.
Organizers encourage guests to walk around the lake and view all of the artwork. If you need assistance, Mayferry shuttles will be running throughout the show, organizers said. There will also be two wheelchair-accessible golf carts for anyone in a wheelchair who needs them. The event is also stroller friendly.
Performances take place on the Library lawn throughout the weekend. Among the performers: FrediDANCE Project, Samira Belly Dance, and George Jenkins ESE Choral Group. See the schedule .
The Lakeland Runners Club is hosting its 44th Annual Mayfaire 5K on May 13. The run will begin at 7 p.m. on Main Street near the Amtrak Train Station and Lake Mirror and ends on the Francis Langford Promenade.
Among the participants this year will be Geoff Gardner, 63, who had to regain the ability to walk with extensive physical therapy following a medical crisis.
“Three years ago, he was unable to walk due to a newly discovered brain disease. He has adult hydrocephalus and now has a shunt in his brain,” his wife Lisa Gardner said. “He is so excited to be walking with our 13-year-old grandson. I’m so proud of him and his determination!”
People are discouraged from bringing pets as the pavement is very hot and not a good environment for them, according to organizers.
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