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Thursday, April 18, 2024

The streets of downtown Gainesville boomed with music, art stands and eager visitors last weekend as the 28th Annual Downtown Festival and Art Show filled about eight city blocks with entertainment.

The festival kicked off Friday evening with live concerts by the Florida Tazers and Janiva Magness in the Bo Diddley Community Plaza on East University Avenue and First Street. Sunny skies and mild autumn breezes continued along with the art festival through the weekend as more than 250 vendors displayed their paintings, accessories, photography, sculptures and knickknacks. Downtown boutiques and restaurants held specials during the event, adding menu items and putting out sales racks outside their storefronts.

Three stages in the Bo Diddly Plaza featured local bands and dance groups entertaining the crowds throughout the weekend.

The atmosphere was full of energy but kind of relaxing at the same time,” said Petra Houbova, a fourth-year student at UF. “There were just so many people moving in all directions, plus all of the art and the colors and the food. At the same time, you were free to do whatever, and if you wanted to stand and look at a piece of art for an hour it would've been fine.”

Visitors also had a wide variety of food and hands-on activities, including an area devoted entirely to children’s arts and crafts on Southeast Second Avenue. The children’s section included a bungee bounce, a waste and recycling educational game tent and an imagination station art tent sponsored by the UF Art Education program. The imagination station allowed for children to create their own masterpieces including sidewalk chalk, puppets, hats and finger-paintings.

My favorite part of the festival was probably all the people,” Houbova said. “Honestly, they were just as interesting as the booths.”

The festival weekend marked the beginning of the holiday season in Gainesville, giving visitors a great variety of unique gift ideas. The Hippodrome began advertising and selling tickets for their holiday shows and local radio station WKTK-FM began their yearly stream of holiday music.

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