DESTIN, Fla. (WKRG) — The Mattie Kelly Cultural Arts Village off Airport Rd. filled up with vendors Saturday and Sunday for the 27th annual Festival of the Arts.

The Mattie Kelly Arts Foundation held the fall festival welcoming hundreds of residents and spectators to shop and admire local artistry.

“Marking 27 years is a testament to how important the arts are to our community and a direct reflection of the talented participating artists, musicians, food vendors, board members, and volunteers — all beautifully managed by our incredible festival producer Deb Nissley,” said MKAF CEO Demetrius Fuller. 

MKAF awarded 29 of the vendors with a split prize of $10,000

  • Best in Show Winner ($2,000) 
  • Curtis Whitwam, Tampa, Fla. – Watercolor 

Best in Show artist Curtis Whitwam was born and raised in Tampa, Fla. Whitman, a two-time Festival of the Arts winner, expresses his love for waterways and wildlife.

“I love to share the feeling of deep connection to nature through watercolor paintings and underwater videos that I create to inspire everyone to get outside and appreciate the beauty and abundance of wild Florida,” Whitman said. 

Mattie Kelly Arts Foundation
  • Award of Excellence Winners ($850) 
  • Valerie Walchek, Ocoee, Fla. – Ceramics
  • Michael Fagan, Pensacola, Fla. – Mixed Media
  • Phillip Fiuza Lima, Marietta, Ga. – Wood 

  • Award of Merit Winners ($450)
  • Roger & Renae Poer, Sylvan Springs, Ala. – Jewelry
  • Paul Shampine, Port St. Lucie, Fla. – Mixed Media 
  • Marise Fransolino, Marietta, Ga. – Pottery
  • Kelly Rysavy, Tallahassee, Fla. – Oil
  • Ancizar Marin, Pembroke Pines, Fla. – Sculpture

  • Judge’s Recognition Award Winners ($250)
  • Jeremy Serna, Brownwood, Texas – Watercolor 
  • Wanda Azzario-Goldberg, Gulf Breeze, Fla. – Mixed Media 
  • Karron Troil, Robertsdale, Ala. – Acrylic
  • Craig McMillin, Folsom, La. – Ceramics
  • Roger Disney, Tulsa, Oka. – Oil
  • Diane Perry, The Villages, Fla. – Fiber
  • Dorothy Starbuck, Santa Rosa Beach, Fla. – Oil
  • Kristine Senft, Santa Rosa Beach, Fla. – Mixed Media
  • Jason Stoddard, Scottsboro, Ala. – Jewelry
  • Robin Holt, Tallahassee, Fla. – Jewelry

  • People’s Choice Award ($1,000)
  • Jeff Waldorff, Navarre, Fla. – Photography

  • Poster Art Contest Winner Justin Gaffrey, Santa Rosa Beach, Fla. – Mixed Media 

  • Collaborative Exhibit Winners ($850)
  • Best in Show (Adult) – Julie Miles Gaffney, Santa Rosa Beach, Fla. – Mixed Media
  • First Place (Adult) – Autumn Johnson, Freeport, Fla. – Mixed Media
  • Second Place (Adult) – Don David, Destin, Fla .– Pen & Ink
  • Third Place (Adult) – Sharon Dooley, Niceville, Fla. – Fiber
  • Best in Show (Student) – Rayna Lowery – Fort Walton Beach High School
  • First Place (Student) – Eliana Batarao – Fort Walton Beach High School
  • Second Place (Student) – Grace Bostick – Crestview High School
  • Third Place (Student) – Clara Collins – Destin High School

The Best in Show adult winner of the Collaborative Art Exhibit was awarded to Julie Miles Gaffney of Santa Rosa Beach, Fla., for her patriotic mixed media piece. The Best in Show student winner was Rayna Lowery from Fort Walton Beach High School. The Collaborative Art Exhibit features adults and students competing for the Special McIlroy Awards in honor of the late Patricia McIlroy, Destin’s First Lady, and an MKAF advocate and patron. 

Mattie Kelly Arts Foundation

Proceeds for the 27th annual event will benefit MKAF cultural development programs for school kids and those with special needs. Art installations and submissions for the 2023 annual event will begin Feb. 2023.

“This year’s festival included a wide array of amazing artists from all over the United States including 37 new artists! We were truly honored to be able to present them and they were absolutely thrilled at the incredible support from our community,” said MKAF director of operations and Festival producer Deb Nissley.

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