People have lots of questions before visiting Mayfaire-by-the-Lake, Lakeland’s premiere outdoor art festival: Where should we park? What if I get hungry? (Where are the bathrooms?) Here is a guide, including Covid safety precautions and information about a first-ever virtual Mayfaire.
Mayfaire-by-the-Lake is a free two-day juried art festival put on by Polk Museum of Art. It’s Saturday and Sunday — Mothers’ Day weekend — from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., at Lake Morton in downtown Lakeland. More than 140 artists — 50 of them new — are exhibiting and selling art.
“I love how Mayfaire art seems to be everywhere in our community — and even in our museum collection,” said Alex Rich, executive director and chief curator at Polk Museum of Art. “I think there’s always a sense of pride or ownership in having works from an event that makes Polk County and Lakeland extra special each year. Mayfaire is a hometown tradition, and owning pieces of its legacy is exciting for art lovers of all tastes.”
What to expect
Visitors will find a wide mix of artistic media from artists and artisans who come from an array of different backgrounds.
“Most importantly, this is affordable art,” Rich said. “If you’re beginning an art collection or expanding an existing one, you’ll find work that fits your spending ability, with countless items ranging from under fifty dollars to several thousands of dollars and everything in between. With everyday art lovers and buyers in mind, the vast majority of work is on the relatively less expensive side. We want folks to cherish great art and find art to call their own without digging too deeply into their wallets.”
“We want everyone to feel safe and comfortable at Mayfaire and so have worked closely with the Polk County Health Department, who will have a presence with their own tent on the library lawn,” Rich said.
Visitors will be reminded of safe practices. The tents are more spaced out this year, too, extending farther around Lake Morton than in the past, with an eye on easing congestion and promoting social distancing. Also, signs will be placed prominently throughout the event to encourage mask-wearing and social distancing.
This year’s poster image, “Procession of the Swan Queen,” below, was created by R.L. Alexander, a Celebration artist whose paintings and prints often evoke history and mythology. Visitors can find posters, T-shirts, and even puzzles of the poster image at the museum’s tent on the library lawn.
While walking around the art and lake, hungry visitors can indulge their cravings from a large variety of food trucks. A few of the food vendors include Tampa Food Truck Ral, Jimmy’s Favorite Seafood and, for dessert, Craving Donuts.
Parking, restrooms, etc.
Accessibility, participating artists, parking and directions from Tampa or Orlando can be found on the Mayfaire website. Visitors can navigate the festival using the downloadable map below that shows exhibitor tents, food trucks and restrooms at the event.
Cash or card
The majority of vendors accept credit cards, but there are ATM locations dotted around Lake Morton.
Preview the art
Folks can check out the art and artists online before showing up, to make a list of must-sees.
For those unable to browse in person, artists began showcasing their work online Wednesday. Through May 12, online visitors and can purchase art at the online gallery.
“If we learned anything this past year, it was that we can still create worthwhile forms of entertainment and connection via the virtual plane,” Rich said. “Virtual events and virtual experiences may not match up with the excitement of in-person experiences, but they have permitted many more people to participate in events they might not otherwise have been able to participate in.”
The virtual element is expected to be part of future Mayfaire events to accommodate those who can’t travel to the area or prefer virtual interaction. The virtual gallery provides artists an outlet to reach a broader audience.
“It was a tough year for everyone, including artists, and we wanted to open up the possibilities for them to sell and promote their work,” Rich said.
Also: LakelandMom’s tips on taking children to Mayfaire