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Premiere craft fair makes Bradenton debut

BRADENTON — Downtown Bradenton will welcome its first craft fair along the riverfront this weekend.

American Craft Endeavors’ popular premiere art fair — which has made annual visits to downtown Sarasota, St. Armands Circle and Siesta Key for more than 20 years — will make its debut here Saturday and Sunday.

Hosting the event is just another way to make downtown Bradenton more attractive to residents and tourists, said Johnette Isham, executive director of Realize Bradenton.

“It’s a real testament to the city’s growing creative reputation that Florida’s premiere show company is partnering with Realize Bradenton to introduce the city’s first craft festival,” she said.

With downtown Bradenton defining itself as a cultural destination, organizers of the craft show said they have definitely taken notice.

“We feel that the city is super for this craft show,” said Darrin Alan, marketing director with American Craft Endeavors, who made note of the beautiful riverfront serving as a backdrop.

Over the years, American Craft Endeavors has typically drawn hundreds of art enthusiasts to Sarasota County to purchase one-of-a-kind items at affordable prices. The company’s craft fairs also are presented nationwide in places such as Chicago, Cleveland and more than 30 cities in Florida.

Now locals won’t have to travel far for custom-made, contemporary works, including folk art, jewelry, paintings, pottery, clothing and other gifts. More than 100 artists will be featured at the fair with 20 percent representing local artists, Alan said. Artwork ranges from $3 to $3,000.

Though Bradenton is accustomed to its share of arts and crafts exhibitors appearing at events such as Get Down Downtown, American Craft Endeavors stands out because it is a juried fair featuring artists from across the country, Alan said. “All the crafters on site actually make the work that are on display,” he added.

Anna Pohl, events manager with Realize Bradenton, said she is expecting large crowds for the weekend event. If successful, Alan said the fair will return next year. Its 23 years of success in downtown Sarasota brings the fair back for three visits each year there. In Siesta Key, where the event has been held for 32 years, the fair returns twice annually.

January Holmes, features writer, can be reached at 745-7057.