“I can’t tell you how excited I am to be a part of this years Tarpon Festival.” said Carroll Swayze, local artist and organizer of the art festival. “I have spent the better part of three months searching for fine artists and craftsmen who I thought would fit the fishing and art motif of the weekend. I have the fortunate position of knowing so many amazing artists all over the country and it was great fun reconnecting with them and asking them to join me on the island for the show. I am very proud of the art that I have put together for the Boca Grande Invitational Art Festival. It’s going to be magnificent!” View More images >>
The fishing part of the festival is a triple tournament event that begins on Thursday, May 17 with the 2012 World’s Richest Tarpon Tournament, sponsored by the Boca Grande Area Chamber of Commerce.
Anglers from all over the world will be competing for tens of thousands of dollars in cash and prizes while fishing Boca Grande’s bountiful waters. Conservation, education and sportsmanship are the mission of this all-release tournament, and world-renowned marine artist, Guy Harvey, not only is one of the sponsors of the event, but he designed the Poster and the T-shirt as well.
On Saturday, May 19, the Second Annual Gasparilla Island Kids Classic will take place. Teams of children will have their turn tarpon fishing with professional guides from the area.
The event is sponsored by Capt. Sandy Melvin and Gasparilla Outfitters, and the proceeds of the tournament will benefit the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer & Research Institute and their “Families First” program.
Nic Mostyn and three of his buddies will be fishing in the tournament for free this year, after Nic won the Kids Classic essay contest for his story about growing up and fishing on the island.
The weekend’s fishing events will finish with the annual Ladies Day Tarpon Tournament on Sunday, May 20, when teams will fish for tarpon in Boca Grande Pass, vying for prizes donated by area merchants.
This tournament has been a local favorite for all 22 years of it’s existence.
The weekend’s events will center around the Tarpon Festival and Carroll Swayze’s Boca Grande Invitational Art Festival, presented by The Boca Grande Chamber of Commerce. The art festival, slated for
Saturday and Sunday, May 19 and 20, will be set up on the street in beautiful downtown Boca Grande.
The hours of the show will be 10 a.m. - 6 p.m. on Saturday and 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. on Sunday. The festival is a premiere art-collecting opportunity for local homeowners and visitors as well as being a great way to spend a day relaxing and enjoying art in a casual island setting.
The list of artists is impressive. More than 65 of the nation’s top award-winning artists will be featured in this world-class art event, and all media will be represented. Some of the nation’s top marine-wildlife artists, whose names include Kevin Brant, Steve Whitlock, Alan Feldmesser, Tom Krause, Fred Cheney, BJ Royster, Kevin Jenkins, & John Townsend will be here to share their talents. Boca Grande and the island’s ambiance have inspired many of the festival artists to create work that reflects the atmosphere of island life.
“I can’t wait to see the show set up. Some of this country’s best artists are coming to the island for the weekend and it’s going to be spectacular! This fine collection of art and artists has never been seen in this area before,” said Swayze. “I hope everyone comes to the island to experience it.”
Swayze is not new to the art and fishing combination. She has been an artist and an environmentalist her whole life. She has been fishing since she was a small child, got her first boat when she was seven and her acrylic paintings and hand-colored etchings of fish and undersea creatures are well known all over the world.
“I was raised to understand that we are all the caretakers of our fragile environment,” she said. “I have always been passionate about the ocean. My subject matter reflects my love of the sea. We depend on its health for our very livelihoods. It is the reason we have such a good quality of life. My latest series of hand-colored etchings is dedicated to the creatures of the Gulf of Mexico, who were so critically affected by the devastating BP oil spill of 2010. My hope is that each and every one of us will remember that we live on a fragile planet and everything we do has an effect. Always remember, we are all riding on the same ocean.”
The Mote Marine Mobile Aquarium & Touch Tank Exhibit will be in Boca Grande for the weekend along with the Art Festival. The Boca Grande Community Center will show fishing and conservation films all day Saturday, May 19. There will be a special appearance by Sean & Brooks Paxton, of “The Shark Brothers” fame. Nashville recording artist, Colton James, will be performing on stage at the festival along with lots of other great musicians. Local restaurants are gearing up to offer their specialties as well as serving refreshments for the weekend and the island is preparing for a very fun week.
For more information about the fishing tournaments please visit the website at www.worldsrichesttarpon.com. For a sneak preview of the Boca Grande Invitational Art Festival please visit the festival website at artinenglewood.com or call Carroll Swayze at (941) 266-6434.
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