Snooty to be honored at Village of the Arts annual Day of the Dead celebration

It’s a day in Mexican lore when those who have passed on are celebrated by making shrines, cooking their favorite meals and in essence, spending time with their dearly departed.

The Village of the Arts will celebrate its 13th annual Day of the Dead festivities beginning Nov. 3 from 6-10 p.m. and Nov. 4 from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m. This local community event typically represents artistic icons who were lost over the year. This year’s festivities break slightly away from that tradition as Snooty will take center stage after village artists selected the manatee to honor with its yearly large community shrine.

The 69-year-old Snooty was found dead in his tank in July after a drowning accident.

Artists will have many individual shrines honoring artistic icons or lost loved ones throughout the village, but the community shrine is a contribution of all of the artists. It will be located on the corner lot at 11th Street West and 12th Avenue West.

The “offerings” are pouring in, ensuring that organizers meet their goal of “building the biggest and best shrine we’ve ever had,” said event organizer Zoe Von Averkamp.

Von Averkamp returns to organize the event after the passing of her husband and fellow artist Jerry, who died in the summer of 2015. Von Averkamp participated in that year’s Day of the Dead to honor and celebrate her 57-year marriage, but closed down her studio, Divine Excess Folk Art Gallery, for a year as she continued to grieve.

She did not participate in the celebration for the first time in a decade last year, but Ana D’Aste, who has kept the festival going in her stead, asked for Von Averkamp’s help to honor Snooty.

“I about jumped through the phone,” Von Averkamp said. “Of course I will.”

Von Averkamp acknowledged that life without her husband has been challenging, but the idea of honoring Snooty sparked a fire that had temporarily gone dim with her husband’s passing.

“It’s such a great idea,” Von Averkamp said. “Snooty was an icon in this community and we want this to be a community endeavor.”

That’s why, unlike in past years, the village is putting out a call to all artists within the entire community to contribute to the shrine with pieces of work or memories of Snooty. Those interested can call Von Averkamp at 941-746-4556. Schools are starting to get involved as well.

D’Aste said Ballard Park Elementary School’s art classes are working on a special project and other schools have expressed interest.

“More are welcome,” D’Aste said. “This celebration of Snooty will put the heart back into this festival. And it’s an opportunity for anyone who wasn’t able to go to Snooty’s memorial to come out and pay your respects.”

For more details on the event, visit the Village of the Arts website at villageofthearts.com, which includes a musical tribute to Gregg Allman and Tom Petty.