Siesta Fiesta attracts large crowds with original artists and casual atmosphere

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all photos Sara Mineo/Catalyst

Siesta Beach, which was rated the United States’ best beach by Dr. Beach in 2011, is home to the annual Siesta Fiesta, a large art and craft show that features a wide selection of merchandise. The 34th annual craft fair was hosted on Apr. 14-15 from 10 a.m.- 5 p.m. in Siesta Key Village and attracted hundreds of locals and visitors to stroll through the booth-lined streets in the warm sun. The event had free admission, though parking cost up to $10 once all public spots were taken. There were attractions for everyone to enjoy such as gladiator dueling, live music and food, and guests were welcome to bring their pets and children, enhancing the event’s casual appeal.

Two hundred and fifty vendors from 30 different states participated in the event and sold typical items, such as jewelry, soap, clothing, handbags, sculptures and painting, as well as not-so-typical items, such as painted palm fronds, handmade pet rocks and clothing for pets and dolls. All of the items were handmade in the United States and ranged from $25 to $30,000 depending on the vendor and item.

Anna Stolz, a freshman at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg, has been to Siesta Fiesta every year since she was a child.

“I think I have been about ten times, though probably more — I was so young, I can’t even remember.” she said.  Despite the fact that she lives almost two hours away from the event, she and her family drive down every year, turning it into a family tradition.

Every year, they find at least one thing to buy and with it, memories and stories are attached. “My parents first stumbled upon [Siesta Fiesta] when they were dating and have been going ever since … 26 or so years later!” she said.

“My parents and I just like going to the different art and craft shows around the area and this one just kind of turned into a tradition.” she said. “The island is so beautiful and it also has this great laid-back feel to it.”

Siesta Fiesta is said to be held during the end of the spring season in order to mark the coming of summer and has been lucky in past years to be held on stormless, sunny days.

Howard Alan Events/American Craft Endeavors Publicist AnaBelle Dweck said that the Florida-based company has been producing the show for 24 out of its 34 years of existence. “Siesta Fiesta is a popular show that attracts locals and tourists alike,” she said. “Many of the established artists have a following and their clients look forward to seeing them each year.”

Each vendor was selected from hundreds of applicants by a panel of judges in order to participate and was in the area for the weekend of the show. “Festival-goers look forward to exploring the work of new and emerging artists in one setting,” Dweck said. “All of the artists [were] on site for the duration of the show and welcomed the opportunity to discuss their art and techniques, which is a bonus for the public.”

Siesta Fiesta is one of Howard Alan’s most popular and well-known shows. “Festivals produced by Howard Alan Events are designed to give artists an ideal setting in which to exhibit and sell their creations,” Dweck said “The group’s founders personally select culturally rich cities for their show locations, providing a complete outdoor experience unmatched by other festivals.”

Though the name may be an oxymoron, Siesta Fiesta is anything but a party one would sleep through.

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