Mayfaire started as a way to promote awareness of the arts in 1971 as well as providing a wonderful way for families to spend Mother’s Day. It is run by the Polk Museum of Art, a non-profit organization that allows free admission to everyone.

Midflorida Mayfaire attracts over 70,000 people each year to enjoy the art that can only be described as tres magnifique. Lake Morton was chosen to host the Mayfaire event for one reason. “We wanted it in our back yard so that patrons can come to the museum while they are at Mayfaire, if they would like,” said Joy Williams, Mayfaire Coordinator.

This year’s cover artist, Tony Eitharong, was chosen by the Mayfaire coordinators, museum curator and the executive director. Deciding on the cover artist each year depends on different concepts. “We look at what the theme is, a feeling we are trying to convey,” said Mayfaire Coordinator, Leslie Norman. 

Every year, a panel of five experts are chosen to judge and score all the art submissions for Mayfaire. “The top scores get invited to Mayfaire,” said Williams. All chosen judges have to be out-of-state judges so there isn’t any bias. 

“We are affiliated with the Smithsonian and we have a point of contact there that knows people in the art industry,” said Williams. This year’s judge for Mayfaire is Leland Bryant, who was chosen by Claire Orologas, Executive Director at the Polk Museum of Art and the museum curator, Dr. H. Alexander Rich.  Bryant will be judging art pieces and giving awards, including a $5,000 top prize for Best of Show. Other awards include 2 Awards of Excellence, 4 Awards of Distinction, 6 Merit Awards, and 5 Honorable Mentions with a $17,000 prize total.

“All applications are submitted digitally,” said Norman. Artists are able to start submitting their work through Zapplication, a computer program used amongst the art word, in October. This year there will be 165 booths including a children’s art tent that will have arts and crafts, printmaking, collages and perspective drawing for children of all ages and abilities to participate in. 

Another booth worth looking at is the Kids Tag Art booth. “[Kids Tag Art] is a program developed out of the Polk County Tax Collector’s office,” said Ellen Chastain, Education Manager at the Polk Museum of Art, “We are proud partners of theirs; working to help organize the Awards of Distinction for 5th graders throughout Polk County, which includes public, private and home school.” The children are able to design a license plate or a vanity plate for purchase and all proceeds go back to that school’s art department. Two works are chosen as Awards of Distinction from each school and are placed on a traveling exhibition throughout Polk County. “Since we have been doing this, there have been nearly 20 other counties that have adopted this program,” said Chastain, “it’s something that has grown over the state of Florida and it started here in Polk County.” This will be the 12th year for the Kid’s Tag Art and they have hit $1 million in raised funds.

Mayfaire Saturday Night will have a live performance from MPiRE, which is returning for the fourth year. This group of nine performers plays a variety of music from Pop, Rock, Top 40, Disco, Country and R&B  from 5:30pm-11pm. Firework show at 9pm.

The Lakeland Runner’s Club will be hosting their 39th annual MIDFLORIDA Mayfaire 5K Race Saturday, May 12th at 7pm. The race runs around Lake Morton and Lake Mirror and will be chip timed. Awards will be awarded at 8pm to runners for overall male and female gun time, Overall Masters using chip time, Grand Masters using overall chip time and top three finishers male and female in each age group starting at age ten. A portion of all proceeds will go to the Polk Museum of Art.

During the event the Polk Museum of Art encourages art lovers to view the current exhibits within the museum. “We have Mayfairy golf carts that transports people through the show including one that is wheelchair accessible,” said Williams. These carts will also make stops at the museum as well as around the lake. 

So this year, take mom and the rest of the family to the Polk Museum of Art’s Midflorida Mayfaire by-the-Lake and enjoy all the wonderful and unique pieces of art that are being shown.

May 12 & 13 


On the shores of Lake Morton in Lakeland.

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