BRADENTON BEACH -- As Judy Farley sat under a white tent Wednesday at the Coquina Beach Arts and Crafts Festival, a patron stopped to admire some pieces for sale.
"How creative are you?" the older woman asked, pausing in front of driftwood fashioned into sea creatures. On display was a wooden turtle nailed to an acrylic paint-washed board and all around were serene-looking paintings on wooden canvases.
"Most of it is my husband's work," Farley responded with a smile. "He has a very good eye."
Farley was one of many vendors at the festival, which continues from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday at Coquina Beach Gulfside in Bradenton Beach. The event features artists selling everything from handmade crafts and hair products to trinkets and jewelry. The festival is ripe with opportunities for vendors like Farley to show off tremendous creativity.
"We'll go to the beaches and hunt down different pieces of driftwood -- and we'll find anything that we can make into things," said the 55-year-old Sarasota resident, who co-manages Dry Dock Furniture with her husband, Mike. Farley and her husband, originally from New Jersey, found sea glass along the Jersey Shore after Hurricane Sandy tore through in 2012. That sea glass is now part of Farley and her husband's art -- a fish is part driftwood and glass, with a fishing lure in his mouth as "bait."
"We like to take junk and make it into something pretty," Farley said.
Items for sale at the Coquina Beach Arts and Crafts Festival range from the norm to borderline quirky; hand-crafted jewelry, aroma night lights -- and even stain-resistant, wrinkle-free tablecloths.
Under the shade of a tent at the festival's midpoint stood Steve Cardona, surrounded by cloth purses. Like a true salesman, the 63-year-old Bradenton resident raved about "Purses by Robin" -- a line of reversible cloth purses made by his wife, Robin Cardona.
Cardona said they buy materials for the purses but occasionally his wife uses
repurposed clothes from the closet. That's how Cardona lost one of his suits. He pointed to the table at one of the purses, made partly from a gray suit.
"I got too fat so I couldn't wear it," he joked. Cardona spoke proudly about the purses, which he says are made mostly from materials he and his wife buy in Bradenton.
There's also plenty to munch on at Coquina Beach Arts and Crafts Festival. At the far end of the festival, Darlene Osborn stood at a vendor stand with her 16-year-old son, Neil, at a table topped with bags of kettle corn and caramel popcorn. Since quitting her teaching job last year to sell popcorn as a full-time vendor, the Groveland resident has taken her home-schooled son along for the ride.
"They (customers) get to experience the fun of it popping all over and hearing it -- and it's freshly bagged so that it's nice and warm for them to eat," she said, adding the popcorn has a sugary-salty flavor. Olson and her son have sold popcorn all over Florida, she said. After their stop at Coquina Beach, the popcorn-popping pair is heading to the Winthrop Arts Festival.
Some festival proceeds from vendor booth fees go toward the Anna Maria Island Butterfly Park, according to Nancy Ambrose, a festival organizer and volunteer with the Anna Maria Island Butterfly Park.
"Anything outdoors is weather-dependent so we're thrilled with the weather today because it's the perfect weather for a festival outdoors," she said. "A lot of times people will go to the festival on the first day and then come back and buy things on the second day. I think that we should get a bigger turnout tomorrow."
Barbara Olson happened to stumble into the Coquina Beach Arts and Crafts Festival. The 64-year-old and her family are visiting Anna Maria Island from Massachusetts. Coincidentally, Olson's daughter makes creations out of driftwood as a hobby, Olson said. Still, the office manager loves seeing other peoples' crafts.
"We appreciate others' work -- because I can't do all that!" she added with a laugh.
Amaris Castillo, Herald Law Enforcement/Island reporter, can be reached at (941) 745-7051. Follow her on Twitter @AmarisCastillo.