Sanibel Island Arts & Crafts Fair
Dates: Saturday, February 15 & Sunday, February 16 (This is President’s Day weekend)
Times: The times for this show 10 a.m.-5 p.m. on Saturday and 10 a.m.-4 p.m. on Sunday
Place: The festival is held on the lawn of The Sanibel Community House located at 2173 Periwinkle Drive, Sanibel’s main street. The Sanibel Community House has been an island fixture since 1927 and touts itself as The Gathering Place on Sanibel Island. Once on the causeway, continue for 3.5 miles before turning right at the first stop sign onto Periwinkle Way, the main thoroughfare on Sanibel Island. Continue for 2.2 miles until you see the Sanibel Community Center where the Art Fair is held.
Many festival goers are already on the island, enjoying a break from the snow and ice covering the northern states this time of year. Others visit the island specifically to take in one or both days of the fair. Either way, Sanibel Island has much to offer, including excellent restaurants, accommodations, golfing, tennis, fishing, boating, shopping, bike paths, canoes, theatrical productions, the renowned J.N. “Ding Darling” National Wildlife Refuge & Bird Sanctuary and pristine sandy white beaches that offer some of the best shelling anywhere in Florida.
Description: Mid-February is the pinnacle of the winter tourist season on Sanibel Island, and this classic arts and crafts fair attracts over 10,000 visitors and more than 100 artists and artisans from around the country who bring paintings in oil and acrylic, watercolors, drawings and graphic art, photography and digital art, sculpture, ceramics, pottery wood working, hand-painted furniture, hand-crafted jewelry, unique gifts, wearable art, and much more. In addition, this fair is known for tasty food and community displays designed to introduce visitors to the islands of Sanibel and Captiva.
Price: There is a $6 toll to cross the Sanibel Causeway bridge from Fort Myers. You can pay with cash, or with your Leeway or Sunpass transponder. There is also a suggested $5 donation at the gate, with the proceeds being used to meet community needs, fund local scholarships and “for human service needs worldwide.” Festival goers are also asked to bring canned goods and other non-perishable foods for the benefit of the Fort Myers Soup Kitchen.
Parking: Free parking is available across the street from the A&C Fair at the play house. When this location fills up signs will direct visitors to numerous other locations. These locations will have a shuttle system to provide a ride to the fair. The shuttle is free with plenty of room for all.
Organizer: Sanibel-Captiva Rotary Club.
Festival Director. Robert Monk
- This is a juried show.
- “In order to preserve the quality of our show and ensure the best possible art buying experience for the Fair’s visitors, we limit the amount of artists we accept based on available space.”
- To further encourage top entries and the highest quality work, the Sanibel-Captiva Rotary Club also awards cash prizes to artists in several categories.
- The Sanibel Island Arts and Crafts Fair actually started as a pancake breakfast in 1981, when Rotarians George Brauch and Jack Slagle spent $550, bought two grills, and rented out the Sanibel Community House to hold an annual pancake event. Over the course of the next couple of years, the two men fielded numerous requests from local artists to exhibit their work during breakfast and in 1984, the Rotary Club decided to include an arts and crafts show as part of the fundraiser. In 1985, the event was expanded to two days, and by 1986, the Rotary had had stopped selling pancakes all together.
- In 1988, the show doubled in size and was moved to the recreational area near the Sanibel School. The two-day event moved back to the Community House environs in 2003 and has been held there ever since.
- Over the course of 28 years, two locations and hundreds of volunteers, and with the support of one very generous community, the Fair has become one of the largest-attended and well-loved events on the Island (and throughout southwest Florida).
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