21st Annual Festival of the Arts

A celebration of art, music, food and fun benefitting Mattie Kelly Arts Foundation

Photo by Kay Phelan

For more than two decades, Mattie Kelly Arts Foundation (MKAF) has given the Emerald Coast an amazing way to frame up a festive, fall weekend with the Festival of the Arts. This year’s event, set for Saturday, Oct. 29 and Sunday, Oct. 30 at the scenic MKAF Cultural Arts Village in Destin again promises to be a true celebration of art, music, food and fun.

One of the Southeast's premier art festivals, the two-day signature event features exhibits of more than 100 artists from 10 states showcasing a diverse palette of artistic styles in 15 different art mediums. Art lovers of all ages can watch artists at work in their tented booths, browse art from dozens of emerging new and student artists, and get hands-on in the interactive children’s art station. 

Beyond the visual arts, the Festival will feature two days of continual live music and a sampling of the local culinary arts scene. Entertaining street performers, lively art drawings and the sale of colorful keepsake souvenirs — all create a family-friendly festival feel.

This year the Festival welcomes guest artist A.J. Brown, a second-generation Florida Highwayman, from Fort Pierce, Florida. The Florida Highwaymen were 26 self-taught African American painters, who in the 1950s realized that they couldn’t sell their work in white-owned galleries, so they took to the road selling their scenes of beaches, sea and wildlife from their car trunks. Today their stunning works are highly valued. A.J. Brown has donated a beautiful oil painting called “Tangerine Skies” valued at $2,275 to the Festival’s Benefit Art Drawing, which takes place Sunday at 3 p.m.

Esteemed judges will award $10,000 in artist prizes in the juried and collaborative art categories. On Saturday, Festivalgoers are invited to vote for the “People’s Choice” Artist Award by casting a ballot located at the Main Festival Entrance. 

One must-not-miss feature is the Collaborative Art Exhibit, which showcases the work of 85 student and adult artists competing for the $600 McIlroy Awards. 

Six sensational local and regional musicians and bands will perform live throughout the weekend on stage at The Dugas Pavilion:

Saturday, Oct. 29 
Drew Tillman, 9:30-11:30 a.m.
Roman Street, noon-2 p.m.
Cartoon, 2:30-4:30 p.m.
Sunday, Oct. 30
Noodle Soup, 10-11 a.m.
Jeff Glickman & the Panhandle All Stars, 11:30-1:30 p.m.
Dino Lourdi, 2-3:30 p.m.

The Festival celebrates the art of dining, too. Cuisine on the Green will serve up samplings of savory and sweet bites from area restaurants and caterers along with adult beverages in the Wine Bar & Beer Garden. Gather with family and friends to enjoy your meal seated at tables al fresco, while taking in the Festival scene and listening to the stellar music line up.  

The Festival is open to the public and runs Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Daily admission is $5. Proceeds benefit MKAF’s cultural arts programs for all. The event is free to children (12 and under) and MKAF members. For more details follow MKAF on Facebook and visit MattieKellyArtsFoundation.org.