AVON PARK — The City of Charm showed it was also a City of Art on Saturday with a large turnout for the inaugural Heartland Cultural Alliance Festival of the Arts.

The day-long event on Museum Avenue proved to be a splendid showcase for artists and art lovers and those who wanted to catch up on Avon Park’s history at the Depot Museum and enjoy cobbler and ice cream in the train dining car.

HCA Vice President Gaylin Thomas noted the large turnout for the festival.

“It is wonderful; I am so tickled that there is an interest in what we are doing here,” she said.

MCA President Fred Leavitt said, “Indeed, it is better than we expected.”

Along with many people seeing the art and talking with the artists at the showcase of fine art and craft exhibit on the first floor Avon Park Community Center, Leavitt noted it was also “crowded” on the second floor in the Peter Powell Roberts Museum of Art & Cultural.

“This is what the area needs, this kind of life,” he said.

Mary J. Jones of Sebring showed her acrylic and colored pencil works featuring birds and animals and more.

She paints and draws, “whatever I like,” Jones said with a laugh. “But, mostly birds, still life and animals.”

Jim Leary of Sebring displayed his window art, which is literal art on panes of glass framed like a window.

“I don’t know what else to call it; I think window art would be appropriate,” he said. “The window frames are their own frames.

“I do have a collection of much larger ones, but a lot of people say they are too big or they cost too much so I have cut them down to size and they come together faster and they are more affordable and they fit in people’s homes.”

Leary said he was impressed by the turnout for the Festival of Arts.

“More people attend these types of shows than go to a single-story building, so I am happy to be here,” he said.

Among the attendees were Barney and Diana Shade of Pennsylvania who live in Sebring for three months during the winter.

Diana showed the newspaper advertisement for the festival she was clutching in her hand.

“My gosh, the first time I came last year [to the museum] I got tears in my eyes; I walked in here and saw all his stuff and it is so gorgeous and beautiful — [artist] Peter Powell Roberts, I am amazed.”

They spent a long time in the Avon Park Depot Museum, Diana said. “We can’t wait to go to the [train dining] car and get the ice cream and the cobbler.”

Avon Park City Manager David Flowers said, “This is awesome; this is kind of thing we need in Avon Park, absolutely.”

Avon Park Chamber Executive Director and HCA member George Karos said it was “inspiring” to see a diverse group of individuals in the community coming out to support other artists and fellow citizens.


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