From browsing the vast variety of eclectic local art to spending all of your hard-earned money on beautifully handmade jewelry, the sixth annual Coral Gables Mega Festival of the Arts was worth the visit.
With the festival hosting eight different events on Feb. 8 and 9, it was almost impossible to leave unsatisfied. Art aficionados, foodies, craft lovers, pet owners and fashionistas would have loved to roam the venue.
Located on 355 Alhambra Circle Street, this mega festival housed a maze of booths that brought people of all ages together to enjoy the local art and learn more about the artists whose work speaks for itself.
When I first arrived, I experienced a sensory overload brought by the mix of colorful canvases and intriguing sculptures. There were more than 200 fine arts and crafts exhibitors, many of which surely had my interest piqued.
One of the first booths I visited at the festival featured Max Lazega, a mixed-media artist that creates pieces out of recycled computer and construction parts. It amazed me to see how Lazega could turn something as simple and ordinary as computer hardware into a gloomy landscape or a funny little sculpture playing a guitar.
My next stop was the Photography Around the World booth, where professional photographer Chris Javaruski amazed me with his unique pictures and extensive knowledge of many beautiful destinations. As I looked into one of his photographs, I was sold on placing a trip to Italy at the very top of my bucket list.
As I walked around the festival, I picked up a refreshing mango Buzz-Pop cocktail and found myself in Jennifer Lashbrook’s booth. Lashbrooks is an artist who focuses on arranging paint chips—like the samples found at paint shops—to make up pixelated images of pop-culture figures such as Marylin Monroe, The Weeknd and Frida Kahlo. I found myself unable to look away after a print caught my eye, mesmerized at the larger meaning of the piece. Her work has been featured in Forbes’ Contemporary Artist list, Netflix’s Beats and Fox’s hit show Empire.
Another booth that I felt was a must-see belonged to artist Shelby Kregel, who instantly drew me in with her bohemian hand-painted prints. Close to Kregel’s booth was that of Mark Billman, a craftsman who makes delicate handmade jewelry. The music on the side gave a nice ambiance to the shopping experience on his booth.
After walking for a few hours, the food was calling my name.
I took a quick detour from the art to visit Joey’s Mini Donuts truck and satisfy my sweet tooth. I could smell the strong scent of cinnamon sugar before even arriving. The aroma hit you immediately, and the taste was unbelievably delicious.
As the day passed by, I craved some lunch. The large selection of food trucks was a bit overwhelming at first. The food went from New York-style pizza to Philly cheesesteaks. I finally set my sights on a truck called Toasted and ordered the most popular item on the menu, the lime chicken chipotle sandwich. Topped with onions, crispy bacon, tomatoes and melted cheese, it was a concoction of flavors. The lime chipotle sauce was the real cherry on top.
The food was the pick-me-up I needed before continuing my exploration.
I decided my next stop would be to see some of the performances. I was lucky enough to get a front row view of the solo and team performances that took place in a stage located in the middle of the venue. Team MVSA Junior and the Coral Gables Team stole the show with their vibrantly emotional contemporary solos, making it one one of the most memorable moments of the whole day.
Everyone in the large crowd was fully engrossed in the performance. At one point, all of the toddlers in the crowd joined the junior team on stage for a dance-along session and succeeded at melting hearts, talking about cuteness overload.
“I didn’t want the dancing to end, the theatrics really sucked you in, it’s like I couldn’t look away,” Miami Dade College alumna Joanny Rodriguez said.
Incredibly satiated and with my feet successfully in pain, I was sad that my day at the Coral Gables Mega Festival of the Arts had come to an end. I honestly can’t wait to see what next year’s festival has in store for us.