For more than four decades, downtown Bartow has been transformed for a weekend into a place of exceptional beauty of art and flowers, and an ever-expanding program of other features and activities.
This year’s two-day event opens this morning at 10, closing at 5. Sunday’s hours are 10 to 4.
Long-time Bartowans will remember the Bartow Garden Club’s annual flower show, which dates back more than 50 years.
The first art show was held under the portico of what was then Bartow Federal Savings and Loan Association on South Broadway.
It didn’t take long for the art show to outgrow its original location, and for the leadership of the art show and the flower show to recognize the potential for a combined event.
The Bloomin’ Arts Festival was born.
In more recent years, quilters have become a part of the show, as have classic car enthusiasts.
While the connection to art and flowers may be a little tenuous, the region’s growing number of serious bicyclists have added a Bloomin’ Bike Ride, with routes of 17, 35, and 65 miles.
This year’s roster of artists lists 97 adult exhibitors from 12 states and more than 50 Florida cities.
While the adult exhibitors are, for the most part, professional-quality artists, the student art show draws youngsters from kindergarten through high school from two dozen public and private schools.
A new feature this year is an emerging artists display, open to artists of all ages who have never entered an art show.
A children’s tent gives youngsters a place to try their hands at art projects and to get their faces painted and their hands and arms adorned with temporary tattoos.
Musical entertainment will be performed Saturday from 11 to 3 on the outdoor stage on Davidson Street at the north end of Central Avenue.
A food court will add to the culinary offerings available in downtown Bartow.
Admission is free, as are the children’s tent activities.
Visitors can purchase works of art in a variety of media at prices that range from modest to investment level.
Congratulations and thanks to Co-Chairmen Michell Githens and Mary Ann Harrell and a small army of volunteers and sponsors who make this event happen.
Bartow’s 43rd Annual Bloomin’ Arts Festival is a centerpiece of Bartow’s ambiance.