More than 45 artists to be featured during Tarpon Festival art show and party

■ STAFF REPORT     BGArtFestWeb

Excitement is brewing as anglers and artists alike prepare for the 2016 Tarpon Festival in downtown Boca Grande on Friday and Saturday, May 20 and 21, from 10 am to 5 pm.

Each year thousands of people travel to the Englewood/Boca Grande community from all over the world to take part in the annual World’s Richest Tarpon Tournament, held by the Boca Grande Area Chamber of Commerce, and the Boca Grande Invitational Art Festival. This is the fifth year for the Boca Grande Invitational Art Festival.

2016 marks the 34th Anniversary of the World’s Richest Tarpon Tournament, which will be held on Thursday and Friday, May 19 and 20. This world-renowned fishing tournament attracts anglers from all corners of the globe who travel to Southwest Florida to compete for thousands of dollars and the chance to catch the greatest prize in the game fishing community, the giant Silver King! Education and conservation of the fishery combine with sport fishing to make this one of the most important fishing tournaments in the country.

Festivities begin on Wednesday evening with the annual Captains’ Meeting, where captains, anglers and sponsors gather to discuss the rules of the tournament and to socialize before the competition begins. Fishing starts on Thursday afternoon on the perfect tide with everyone hoping to win the big prize.

The committee has changed the prize structure this year so that there are more opportunities to win.

The Boca Grande Invitational Art Festival begins on Friday morning at 10 a.m. and runs until Saturday evening at 5 p.m. Fishing continues on Friday afternoon and culminates with an awards ceremony on Friday night at the Tarpon Festival on Park Avenue at 8 p.m.

Local artist Carroll Swayze is the chairman of the Boca Grande Invitational Art Festival. She works very hard every year to gather a fine collection of incredible marine and wildlife artists for her invitational art show.

“World-class art is a big part of Tarpon Week,” said Swayze. “I spend my year traveling and hunting for the best of the best in original marine artwork. I am proud to showcase this year’s exciting group of fine artists and craftsmen who will be coming to the island for the Tarpon Festival. It’s going to be an exciting week!”

The 5th Annual Boca Grande Invitational Art Festival anchors the tarpon festival in the heart of historic Boca Grande on Friday, May 20 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and on Saturday, May 21 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Forty-five of the nation’s top award- winning artists will line Park Avenue from 3rd to 5th Street in this world- class art event, and all media will be represented. 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.

“Fishing is a big part of our family heritage.” said Swayze. “My grandfather was an avid fisherman, I am an avid fisherman and my son, Capt. Shannon Hoeckel, is a Boca Grande fishing guide. The subject matter of my paintings has always revolved around the ocean and the creatures within it. I am working on a grouping of new tarpon paintings to commemorate this year’s tarpon season. I caught my first big tarpon last year on Mother’s Day with my son, and it was incredible. I am truly inspired.”

The Tarpon Festival will feature, along with the Art Festival, live music on the stage all day and into the evening. Local restaurants and non-profit groups will be providing delicious food, and there will be a beer and wine café sponsored by Budweiser set up near the stage for thirsty festival-goers.

For more information about the Worlds Richest Tarpon Tournament, please call Marcy Shortuse at the Boca Grande Chamber Of Commerce, (941) 964-0568 or visit the website at worldsrichesttarpon.com.

For more information about the Boca Grande Invitational Art Festival, call Carroll Swayze at (941) 266-6434.

See more at worldsrichesttarpon.com