Eighty-nine vendors turned out for the Central Park Arts Festival in downtown Winter Haven. (Photo by Michael Freeman).

WINTER HAVEN – One person’s broken china, it would appear, can be someone else’s art.
“I guess you can call me a green artist,” said Tina Goolsby of Ormond Beach. What she does is take beautifully designed and decorated china plates that have been broken and are considered to no longer have any use or value – and find a new use, and value, for them.
“I am taking plates and attaching patterns onto them,” she said, and then using them to make bracelets, broaches, and other jewelry. That’s what she was selling today – quite literally, Broken China Jewelry, through the company she runs, Pieces of the Past, which had a booth at the Central Park Arts Festival in downtown Winter Haven.
“For me, this would be a new profession,” Goolsby said. “I’m a retired art professor.”
When she learned that the Ridge Art Association was hosting a two day arts festival in downtown Winter Haven, Goolsby decided to check it out, and soon found herself among more than 80 vendors, who attracted a considerable amount of foot traffic throughout the day.
“This is my first year here,” she said. “There’s a book for vendors called ‘Where The Shows Are,’ and this one fit my parameters, and I thought, ‘We’ve never been down there, so let’s go.’ “
With picture-perfect weather, Goolsby said Winter Haven’s downtown proved to be the ideal spot for a festival like this.
“This is a wonderful venue here in the park,” she said. “It’s so beautiful here. It has been busy, just continuous. I do 12 shows a year, and this is a wonderful show, very well organized.”
Along with the arts and crafts vendors, there was food, live entertainment, and activities for kids – as well as prizes for the winners of the Central Park Arts Show.
“It’s perfect,” Christy Hemenway, one of the organizers of the event and the executive director of the Ridge Art Association, said as glanced at the huge crowd that had turned out for what she said were 89 vendors taking up three blocks in downtown.
“What else could you ask for?” she said.
There was certainly diversity in what the vendors had to offer.
Tom Levine brought along copies of his novels, which included “Paradise Interrupted,” “Bite Me,” and “Bass Fishing In Outer Space.” They were not, he added, meant to be educational.
“I’m not here to tell people about bass fishing,” he said. “My mission is not to educate the public, it’s to sell a lot of books.”

Crowds turned out on a mild winter day for the Central Park Arts Festival. (Photo by Michael Freeman).

And, he said, this show had brought out so many people that he was doing just that.
“The people here have been great,” Levine said. “It’s terrific, it’s a lot of fun.”
It was the 20th year that Randy Pardue had come to the arts festival, selling wall decorations he designs himself.
“I free hand with a torch, and then I color them by using ammonia and mold them into any shape I want,” he said, as he pointed to several decorations shaped like fish. “I mold them out of copper.”
This winter festival has always been a good spot for artists like himself, said Pardue, who lives in Hawthorne.
“I’ve always liked this venue,” he said. “It’s small, but a nice setting. You get a good crowd here. The quality is good of the other artists.”
Sherri Calkins used to work in the housing industry doing computer design, until the market crashed in 2008, and her company went elsewhere.
“They decided to pull out of Florida when the economy went south,” she said. A longtime photographer, Calkins decided to combine her interests in computer graphics and photography into one hobby.
“This is photographic art that I make,” she said. “It starts photo-based, and then is digitally enhanced in a computer. I do different things with them, sometimes where it’s a combination of photographs on top of each other until it speaks to me. It’s all based on what the particular picture is telling me. They’re concept pieces that use photos to create a story and a message.”
And the Central Park Arts Festival, she said, brought out crowds interested in learning more about her work.
“It’s great here,” Calkins said. “It’s a gorgeous venue.”

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