Holiday gifts and local art brings people of all ages together
By Kyle LoJacono
LUTZ — When it comes to craft shows, The Lake Park Arts and Craft Festival is one that stands out — literally.
“It’s kind of hard to miss the huge sign that goes up on the corner of Van Dyke (Road) and Dale Mabry each year,” said Edwina Kraemer. “That’s how I learned about it the first time I went. Everybody knows about the festival.”
The 49th annual event will take place Dec. 5 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Dec. 6 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Lutz Lake Park. The Lutz-Land O’ Lakes Women’s Club Inc., which is part of the larger General Federation of Women’s Clubs, is organizing the event for the 30th time.
Kraemer, who was the Lutz Guv’na in 2006, is the second vice president of the club but attended the festival before becoming a member. Kraemer and her husband, David, moved to Lutz from Carrollwood five years ago. She is a retired science teacher and taught at Gaither during its first year in 1984.
One of the draws for vendors is there is something for people of all ages at the festival.
“It is such a great time with a very family-friendly atmosphere,” said Kraemer. “It’s a great place to do your Christmas shopping for anyone. There will be people selling baby clothes to great local artwork and jewelry too. The Boy Scouts will be selling food and there will be vendors in the 70s, too.”
Lutz resident Shirley Simmons, festival co-chairperson with Phyllis Hoedt, said between 35,000 and 40,000 people came to the two-day event last year. Simmons was also the Women’s Club president from 1984 to 1986.
“The festival started at the Old Lutz School House on (US) 41 and later moved to the train depot across the street,” said Simmons. “It moved to Lake Park about nine years ago. This year, we’ll have 260 vendors and several spots we give to local groups for free, like Lutz Patriots, Relay For Life, Boy Scout Troop 12 and one to Steinbrenner High who will be selling their textiles.”
Simmons also said there would be vendors from Lutz, Land O’ Lakes, Odessa, Wesley Chapel, Zephyrhills, Dade City and New Tampa at the event.
Simmons’ first festival was in 1980, and she keeps coming back for similar reasons as Kraemer.
“It is just a one-stop place to shop for Christmas presents,” said Simmons. “There are items for as little as 50 cents to art and jewelry as expensive as a few thousand dollars. There will be items to suit everyone’s tastes.”
One vendor who has been at the festival three times is Pauline Atkinson, of Zephyrhills. Atkinson makes her living selling clothing and jewelry at craft shows since retiring from a job with the University of South Florida in 2004.
“The clothing line is called Camerton Designs that I sell with my sister in Atlanta,” said Atkinson. “We also sell purses with the line. I also will sell handmade glass bead jewelry with my line called Katie’s Kloset…I like doing this show because it’s a nice, small and safe festival where lots of people always show up.”
Atkinson also plans to sell her items at the Gasparilla Art Festival in March 2010.
Kraemer explained the Lutz festival has three goals: to provide the community with access to local arts and crafts; to give artists a place to display and sell their products; and for the Women’s Club to raise money that will go back into the community.
“Everything we collect will go to several groups in the community,” said Kraemer. “We give money to Boy Scout troops, the Civil Air Patrol, to youth scholarships, to the Lutz volunteer fire department, to libraries and many more groups.”
The North Tampa-Lutz Cadet Squadron of the CAP will be helping park cars at the event, and Boy Scout Troop 12 will be helping with overnight security for the vendors.
Besides the arts and crafts, many vendors will be selling a variety of foods, such as: barbecue, sandwiches, canned foods, breakfast breads, ice-cream, kettle corn and homemade baked goods.
“The Women’s Club will be selling hotdogs and our excellent peach cobbler,” said Kraemer. “I mean we’re talking homemade peach cobbler. It is so good.”
Admission is free for the festival and parking is $2 per vehicle. People of all ages are welcome, but no dogs are allowed except service dogs.
“It’s always a great time and we plan on the same this year,” said Kraemer. “The weather is usually good, and it’s a beautiful park to have the festival at.”
For more information about the event, call Simmons at (813) 949-7060.