Tradition Continues with 49th Annual Lake Wales Arts Festival

It is a tradition nearly fifty years strong – a weekend of food, fare, and fine art – but this year it’s bigger and better than ever. The 49th Annual CB&T Lake Wales Arts Festival presented by Citizens Bank and Trust and hosted by Lake Wales Arts Council, will take place on the Shores of Lake Wailes on February 29 and March 1, kicking off with the 9th Annual Art-B-Que on the evening of February 28. The free-to-attend arts festival promises to be community-driven and fine arts-focused.

If live entertainment, mouthwatering BBQ and drinks are your thing, you won’t want to miss the 9th Annual Art-B-Que. It will take place in the Entertainment Village (more on that later) on the Shores of Lake Wailes on February 28 from 6 pm to 8 pm. Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for children under the age of 13. The theme this year is – Nashville! “Everybody needs to wear their dress wranglers and bring their cowboy hats and come enjoy some really great BBQ and fine country music,” said Executive Director for the Lake Wales Arts Center, Andrew Allen.

Putting the ‘B’ in Art-B-Que this year is Blue Dog Craft Barbecue. A Polk celebrity pop-up of sorts, Blue Dog serves up the finest BBQ and southern fare around from fall-off-the-bone ribs to succulent pork belly and brisket, mac and cheese, coleslaw, potato salad and the like. Flair for the evening will come courtesy of the Folk and traditional Country stylings of Sebring-based, The Back Porch Revival. Attendees can enjoy beer and wine at a cash bar during the evening.

There would be no Fine Arts Festival if it weren’t for the patrons, and the Lake Wales Arts Council has a few new experiences in-store to show gratitude for their ongoing support. In addition to the annual Patron’s Breakfast on Saturday morning complete with Bloody Marys and mimosas, there will be a Patrons Ice Cream Social that afternoon at 4 pm, followed by a Patrons Gourmet Hot Dog Lunch to be washed down with Grove Roots beer on Sunday at noon.

All of these patron events will take place at the Entertainment Village – a feature new to the festival this year. The Lake Wales Arts Council has partnered with Lakeland-based mobile modular event space company, MYBOX to particularly dazzle patrons. “We’re really excited to change the way that we’ve done our patrons and hospitality tents,” said Allen of the Entertainment Village. The village, complete with an AstroTurf lawn, will be constructed of two MYBOX lounges for patron-level attendees – one of which is a fully enclosed 20 x 20-foot air-conditioned lounge. The other is an open-air module with a sky deck overlooking the lake.  

A MYBOX stage in the Entertainment Village will showcase a lineup of Jazz artists throughout the weekend. The distinct jazz theme of the festival this year is intentional says Allen. He explained that this will be a way for lovers of the old Jewel of the Ridge Jazz Festival, to get the jazz fix they’ve been looking for in Lake Wales.

The festival will feature local and regional acts including the likes of Alex Belliveau, Andrew Percoco, Jonathan Kaufman and more. The judges’ artwork will be on display through the Entertainment Village as well. Patrons will receive free water, sodas, and popcorn throughout the event as well. You can become a patron to support the arts locally and get all the VIP perks like patron-exclusive events by calling them or visiting their website listed below.

The LWAC will accept between 75-85 artists who will compete for $22,500. Of that, $17K will be in awards with another $5,500 in their Purchase Prize Program. World-class artists from Toronto, Florida, Ohio, California, Tennessee, Arizona, Texas, and other states across the country will bring their talents to Lake Wales for the event. Both the healthy prize pool and beauty of the city are what Andrew Allen thinks attracts such master creatives to the Ridge. “The Arts Festival has been around for almost fifty years and we have a reputation for taking care of artists and treating them with respect. We’re going to continue that tradition for another fifty years,” said Allen. Festival attendees can purchase art of varying price-points and mediums.  Whether you’re in the market for a $25 print or an original oil painting – you will find something to enrich your collection.

The Arts Council in coordination with the Lake Wales Library has a Student Art Show running through February. All artwork submitted by students will be displayed at the library through the month of February and winners will have their art displayed at the festival. There will be an awards ceremony for the students at 10 am on Saturday, followed up by a kid’s concert that anyone can attend at 11 am with well-respected singer/ songwriter, Dot Reiser.

Again this year, the LWAC has partnered with Gail Crum and the Lake Wales Family Literacy Coalition for a children’s tent with arts and activities for little ones. Allen spoke on using the festival as an opportunity to introduce young people to the arts. “It’s important to give them a safe environment to explore their creativity and it gives them a little taste of what we do here at the Arts Center every week,” he said.  

While enjoying the sounds of live jazz emanating from the Entertainment Village and admiring art from around the world, festival-goers can pick up a bite to eat from one of the festival food trucks. The Rolling Gourmet food truck will be on-site slinging unique burgers like the Philly Burger and Gyro Burger along with other tasty “multi-cuisine” meals and sides. If the Florida heat gets you down, enjoy a chilled treat from Chief’s Chill Out Truck serving up one-of-a-kind desserts including shakes, snow cones, and a self-serve sundae bar. Bringing the beach vibes, Tallulah’s Table by the Sea will be rolling in with sensational fresh and fried under the sea favorites. 

The Lake Wales Arts Festival is an area institution. The LWAC executive director noted its significance culturally and economically to the area through increased tourism. “It brings tourists to our city, exposing them to all of the great things Lake Wales has to offer,” said Allen. “Tourists that come in for the Arts Festival also go to the Lake Wales Library, the Lake Wales History Museum, they eat at our local restaurants, they visit Bok Tower […].” Allen said he is excited for the introduction of the Entertainment Village to the festival this year, bringing an elevated experience to patrons and festival-goers. Though he may be most excited for the Lake Wales Arts Council to host the event, bringing tourism to the area and sharing the beauty of The Ridge with attendees.

“Culturally it’s very important to hold an arts festival in our small town and it’s been proven for almost fifty years that our city truly loves the arts, and they continue to support this arts festival,” said Allen.


9th Annual Art-B-Que

When: February 28, 2020, 6 pm - 8 pm

Where: The Shores of Lake Wailes



49th Annual CB&T Lake Wales Arts Festival

When: Saturday, February 29, 2020, 10 am - 5 pm

And Sunday, March 1, 2020, 12 pm - 5 pm

Where: The Shores of Lake Wailes



Lake Wales Arts Council

1099 SR 60 E, Lake Wales, FL

Phone: (863) 676-8426

FB @LakeWalesArtsCouncil

IG @lakewalesartscouncil

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