Florida Focus News Brief Feb. 23, 2017

In this news brief: home market tracker Zillow says Tampa has the nation’s third-fastest appreciating housing market; a man is arrested for swinging swords at a Brooksville Wal-Mart; Hillsborough’s Department of Health issues advisory warnings for two local beaches owing to the presence of enterococci bacteria; Publix, a Lakeland-based grocery chain, ranks third out of 100 companies for social responsibility and emotional appeal according to a national consumer survey; TripAdvisor ranks Clearwater beach number one in the nation and number 20 in the world.

 

Clearwater Beach presents annual Chalk Art Festival

The fifth annual Clearwater Beach Chalk Art Festival welcomed local and regional artists to display their talents on the Clearwater Beach sidewalk.

“There are so many amazing artists here,” said artist Julie Greene.

For the festival, Greene drew a chalk version of Omar Rayyan’s “The Favorite” catching the attention of people passing by.

“I love the face on the little girl,” visitor Gust Ristas said about Greene’s drawing.

Greene wasn’t always a chalk artist. She’d been experiencing what she described as an artist’s block until she discovered her chalk art talent.

“I was sitting outside one day and my kids were riding their bikes and scooters and the bucket of sidewalk chalk was sitting next to me and I just started doing these great big quotes,” said Greene about how she got started.

Greene claimed that chalk art helped her get through artist block and even get back into other forms of artwork.

“I felt like the creative juices started flowing again,” Greene said.

The creative juices were flowing for visitors at the festival as well. Singer-songwriter Danny Mcelroy put his talent on display by singing a portion of a song he wrote.

“My dream is to be a musician, you know, and like tour, you know, and make money off of being a performer and musician,” Mcelroy said.

 

 

 

Photo gallery: Fun in the Sunset at Pier 60

The Sunset at Pier 60 Daily Festival is located at Pier 60 on Clearwater Beach. It is a weather permitting event that is every day from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. It starts two hours before the sun sets and lasts two hours after the sunset fades away.

At this event, skilled crafters and artisans come together to display their handmade crafts and entertainers perform their latest tricks for the public to watch. The Sunset Celebration Festival started on March 17th, 1995 and in 2015 the festival celebrated their 20th Anniversary.

Clearwater Beach Sugar Sand Festival

Clearwater Beach’s very own sand is sculpted to life in a 21,000 square foot tent just south of Pier 60.

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The Third Annual Pier 60 Sugar Sand Festival is being held from April 17th-26th and uses 1,000 tons of sand. Ten master sand sculptors from around the globe took several days to build the exhibit. This year’s theme is “Sugar Sand Tales” where literary classics come to life with a modern day twist.

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“For decades people have referred to our sand as sugar-like; hence the name of the festival,” event coordinator Lisa Chandler said.

Sunsets at Pier 60 Daily Festival is the main sponsor of the event. It is a year-round festival that highlights artisans, crafters, vendors and street performers. This is its 20th year in service and is a 501-c4 organization for the arts.

New this year is six nights of free concerts including the Black Honkeys, Pirate Flag and the Landsharks. There are also two nights of fireworks to celebrate the City of Clearwater’s centennial and dessert vendors. Yuengling Beer and Cupcake Vineyard wine are sold on site as well.

Inside the exhibit there is also a master sand sculpting competition where six sculptors are competing for a $5,000 prize. Votes can be made through donation jars placed in front of each sculpture and all proceeds from the competition will benefit Sandy Lane Elementary School in Clearwater.

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A storybook themed playlist can be heard inside the tent with songs from Snow White, Cinderella, Harry Potter and many others.

On the weekends, a performance sculptor will be on site to do demonstrations and host clinics and even compete in a friendly duel with another sculptor in the speed sand demonstration.

“I’ve been to Tawain, Dubai and Rio de Janeiro and each of the places I go to sculpt has completely different sand,” master sand sculptor Dan Belcher said.

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Each adult ticket to the exhibit includes a complimentary 5×7 photo, sponsored by CCM Graphics and Visit St. Pete/Clearwater.

Many of the local businesses and artisans noticed a spike in tourism and business once the sand festival began. Dallas Saupe, a street performer, has been on Clearwater Beach for nearly twenty years.

“Last Friday it was pretty slow after the Easter holiday. This Friday each of our shows were packed and had hundreds of people gathered around to watch,” Saupe said.

Last year, the exhibit had 30,000 people pay to enter, but the festival itself drew in crowds of 100,000.

“I’ve seen similar things on TV, but in real life it’s so much better. Everything has so much detail and the sculptures are huge,” event attendee James White said.

As part of a marketing grant this year, the festival will track zip codes from visitors to see just how much of an impact it has on the local community.