Mattie Kelly Arts Foundation (MKAF) celebrates the cultural arts by enhancing the offerings of its annual Festival of the Arts at the MKAF Cultural Arts Village in Destin.

One of the Southeast's premier art festivals, the two-day signature event features art exhibits of nearly 200 artists from 13 states, showcasing a diverse palette of artistic styles in 22 different art mediums, including the juried and collaborative exhibit.

“The festival is a true celebration of art, music, food and fun for all ages,” said MKAF CEO Marcia Hull.

The festival is open to the public and runs Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Daily admission is $5. Proceeds from MKAF cultural events help fund arts education community outreach programs serving K-12 students, adults and children with special needs and military and veteran populations suffering with PTSD and TBI. The event is free to children 12 and under and MKAF members. Sorry, no refunds are given for inclement weather.

“This year we are absolutely thrilled to welcome 38 new artists — more than ever before," said Festival of the Arts Artist Market Chair Deb Nissley. "We will have all of the offerings our festival fans look forward to each year, but with more than three dozen new artists joining some of our longtime artists — all showcasing beautiful, new original works of art accompanied by live music, makes the festival a fresh, new experience all over again."

Art lovers of all ages will be able to watch artists create works during live art demonstrations, browse art from dozens of emerging and student artists, and get hands-on in the interactive children’s art station. Entertaining street performers, lively art drawings and the sale of colorful keepsake souvenirs all create a family-friendly festival feel.

A Celebration of the Arts

The 22nd annual edition of the festival brings fresh art and new faces to the Emerald Coast. This year, artists will display everything from oil paintings and fine photography to mixed media, mosaics, sculpture, clay ceramics, jewelry and more. After two decades, this festival has become a popular and proven showcase for some of the best artistic talent nationwide who venture to Northwest Florida to compete for $10,000 in cash prizes.

The judging panel includes Claudia O’Steen, post doctoral fellow at the University of West Florida in Pensacola, and Ann Kozeliski, art director of the Lemoyne Center for the Visual Arts in Tallahassee. They will award prizes in the juried and collaborative art categories. On Saturday, Festivalgoers can vote for the “People’s Choice” Artist Award at the main Festival entrance.

The Collaborative Art Exhibit showcases the work of 26 seasoned and emerging adult artists and 60 local student artists competing for the $700 McIlroy Awards given in honor of the late Patricia McIlroy, Destin’s first First Lady and an MKAF advocate and patron.

Several local plein air painters will capture the scenic views surrounding the Cultural Arts Village and still life vignettes on canvas. Plein air is a French expression made popular in the late 1800s meaning “in the open air” used to describe the act of painting out of doors.

A team of volunteers in the Kid’s ArtStop Tent will work with young aspiring artists to create hands-on interactive art activities, fall-themed paintings, face painting, pumpkin painting and other fun crafts, not-to-mention adding their individual flair to a large group mural on canvas.

A Celebration of Music

Six local and regional musicians and bands will perform live throughout the weekend on stage at The Dugas Pavilion. Saturday, singer/songwriter Drew Tillman, 9:30-11:30 a.m.; followed by Jeff Glickman and the Panhandle All Stars, 12-2 p.m.; then Caravan, 2:30-4:30 p.m. On Sunday, a band to be announced will open the festival performing from 10-11 a.m.; followed by Roman Street, 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. Singer/songwriter Melissa Joiner, 2-3:30 p.m., closes out the festival.

The Art of Dining

The festival has expanded its culinary arts experience, too. Cuisine on the Green will serve up samplings of savory seafood, street tacos, barbecue from Jim N’ Nicks, sushi,  with sweet treats and snacks among others. Foodies can toast the arts with select domestic and imported wine and beer in the newly expanded Wine Bar & Beer Garden.

More Festival Amenities

Buy Festival Merchandise — This year's official festival guide, poster and T-shirt feature the coastal-inspired artwork of Destin's husband-wife duo Tony and Vivian Zack, who will be exhibiting at the festival. Signed and numbered poster prints and souvenir T-shirts featuring the Zack’s whimsical mixed media mermaid artwork, “Can’t Catch Me,” will be available for sale in the Souvenir Tent.

Win Art! — Be sure to also visit the Art Drawing Tent and enter the charity benefit drawing for chances to win a range of original artwork generously donated by the 2017 Festival artists. The drawing will take place on Sunday, Oct. 29, at 3 p.m., but you do not need to be present to win.