Scenes from the Arts and Crafts Fair. SC photos by Dorothy Wallace
Scenes from the Arts and Crafts Fair. SC photos by Dorothy Wallace

Before the Rotary Club of Sanibel-Captiva starts setting up this year's Arts and Crafts Fair at the Community House – something it's got pretty good at in the past three decades – it must decide who it is setting up for. That's no easy chore, and this year it was harder than normal.

Rotary's juried committee was tasked this year with whittling down 350 applications from artists in many disciplines to about 100 who will be allowed on the grounds with their wares for this year's fair, according to longtime Rotarian Chet Sadler of the show's organizing committee.

The committee said the quality of art this year is the best,” Sadler said. “They said it was really difficult.”

That's great news for the more than 10,000 who will pass through the grounds on Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 13-14.

We just get better, and better known,” Sadler said of the show now entering its 33rd year.

Although more than 100 jewelers applied, the committee only took 15 so as the spread out the fair with all kinds of different art, including paintings, sculptures, photography, pottery and wearable art.

Sadler said Rotary formerly was aggressive in soliciting artists. It scoured East Coast shows, including the massive Coconut Point show in Miami that draws 1,000 artists and huge crowds. But the local Rotarians don't have to do that now and didn't do it this year. Artists, Sadler said, have found that while crowds in Miami and elsewhere are larger, they are likely to sell more on Sanibel.

Rotary asks for a $5 donation for the fair which runs 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday. The event is Rotary's largest fundraiser and the club makes a point of allowing fair visitors to see where the money goes. The local Rotary supports a large number of projects, both locally and internationally.

Part of this year's fair is a special display of Guatemalan artwork that will be on sale inside the Community House. Local merchants have also provided an array of items for a silent auction.

Outside there will be plenty of food and Sadler said a barbeque vendor has been added this year.

The Rotarians will be hoping for good weather and no rain.

Well, we do a rain dance,” Sadler quipped. “And we've got plenty of mulch to fill in the puddles.”

In 33 years the Rotarians have thought of everything.