Mayfaire by-the-Lake returns to Lake Morton next month

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Faith Miller

This year marks the 42nd annual Mayfaire by-the-Lake event, hosted by the Polk Museum of Art at Florida Southern College, inviting visitors and artists from all over to view its outdoor art gallery.

“We’re not taking hosting Mayfaire lightly,” Dr. Alex Rich, executive director and chief curator of the museum, said in a press release. “And we want to ensure the safety of our visitors and all participants. The Polk County Health Department, with whom we have been in active conversation, will also have a presence at the festival, promoting best practices and COVID prevention awareness.”

First launched in 1971, the function began as an arts and crafts fair located on the lawn of the Lakeland Public Library, and it has now become one of the largest and oldest outdoor art’s festivals in Central Florida.

The festival is located along the sides of Lake Morton and was ranked number 36 among Sunshine Artist Magazine’s 200 Best Art Shows in 2019.

After not being held in May 2020 due to coronavirus concerns, the museum and the rest of the Lakeland community is looking forward to resuming the annual Mother’s Day celebration.

“Mayfaire by-the-Lake is one of the most celebrated Central Florida events each and every year,” Rich said. “It is a Mother’s Day weekend tradition that we all look forward to, and our not being able to hold Mayfaire in 2020 was heartbreaking for us and the whole community.”

Although the art show is making its return this Mother’s Day, the accompanying event Mayfaire Saturday Night, where people can enjoy fireworks at the Frances Langford Promenade, will be postponed until 2022.

Mayfaire weekend will also include its annual 5k race around Lake Mirror, set to take place on May 8.

The festival will feature its traditional “featured image,” a piece of art done by a local artist to act as a centerpiece for the event, along with more than 150 artist booths and works of art.

This year’s featured image was created by R.L. Alexander and the piece is titled, “Procession of the Swan Queen.” It features fairytale-like elements including a dragon playing an instrument, forest animals inspired by those around him, and a swan queen riding a huge, majestic swan. 

The swan queen is accompanied by her lady-in-waiting riding a pelican, the court musician and more.  R.L. Alexander is from Celebration, Florida, where he lives with his wife and two greyhounds, who often find their way into some of his paintings. 

The event will be judged by Graham C. Boettcher, the R. Hugh Daniel Director of the Birmingham Museum of Art. According to the official event website, he has previously served as a juror for several art festivals including Chattanooga’s 4 Bridges Arts Festival, Birmingham’s Bluff Park Art Association Annual Show and Art Fields in Lake City. 

Mayfaire by-the-Lake will also include different performances from different groups throughout the course of the weekend like dance companies, local musicians and more. The performances will be located on a stage on the front lawn of the Lakeland Public Library. 

Those interested in performing on the lawn as well may contact the Mayfaire office by emailing MayfairebytheLake@PolkMuseumofArt.org. 

Artists who participate in the event will also receive awards and prizes. The prizes range from $200 to $5,000 and awards are given out for categories such as Best of Show, Awards of Excellence, Awards of Distinction, Merit Awards and  Honorable Mention Awards. 

The event will take place on Mother’s Day weekend, May 8 and 9, running from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on both days.

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