Shop, eat, be entertained at Art in the Park

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Last year's Art in the Park featured more than 42 vendors, and this year's roster is even larger for the 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday festival in Memorial Park. It's the 11th year for Art in the Park and the second organized and coordinated by the Heart of Sumter Neighborhood Association committee.

Admission to the family-friendly event is free. Those attending can enjoy a leisurely stroll through the historic park and browse the wide variety of items offered by more than 60 vendors, including painters, jewelers, potters, photographers, glass artists and more. Wood and metal crafters will set up near fabric artists and candle makers, and representatives of various charities and community organizations will have food items for sale; hungry shoppers can have their choice of sweets or heartier dishes, such as barbecue, sub sandwiches, hot dogs and hamburgers, knowing that proceeds from their purchases will benefit good causes.

Children will have their own craft center, where representatives of different organizations will guide them in such activities as yarn art, making air rockets and pine cone bird feeders, painting rocks and pumpkins, coloring and more - all at no cost. There will also be a drawing for a prize basket.

Two stages will have entertainment throughout the day, said Cleo Klopfleisch of the HSNA. Acoustic musician and singer Will Jenkinson, the Lemira Lions Golden Steppers, YMCA Gymnastics Twisting Aerials, Freed School dancers and Miss Libby's Rising Stars will alternate performances on Stage 1 near the northeast corner of the park, while on Stage 2 at the southwest corner, park visitors can hear authors Sheila Ingle, Ashley Blanchard and others with Buxton Books read and sign books; they can also witness a demonstration of "The Tools and Toys of the American Revolutionary War." The Sumter County Library will sponsor a visit from Pete the Cat, and there will be a panel discussion on how to get published.

Klopfleisch noted that Jenkinson's "set list includes a mix of today's hits and yesterday's classics." He previously entertained at the 2015 Art in the Park and has performed locally at Sumter Senior Services' downtown wine-tasting event, Sip and Stroll, as well as at Porches of Sumter held annually in the historic district.

Klopfleisch said she and other HSNA members "have a list of gifts we plan on wrapping up for our loved ones," suggesting that Art in the Park is an excellent place to get a head start on Christmas shopping while supporting local artists and other vendors.

Sumter Senior Services will also be at the park to help prepare for Christmas, selling its Christmas cards created by various local artists over the past years. The purchase of each card, priced at $5, will provide a balanced, home-delivered meal, in honor of the recipient, to one of Sumter's frail elderly.

Art in the Park, presented from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at Memorial Park, is designed so that participants can spend part or all of the day visiting vendors, artists and crafters, being entertained and socializing with friends. The park is in the heart of Sumter's historic district, bordered by West Calhoun street and Park, Salem and Hampton avenues. Admission is free, and free parking is available at Curtis and Croft Law Firm, 325 W. Calhoun St. and at Grace Baptist Church, 219 W. Calhoun St. Handicap parking only is available next to Memorial Park at the former Sumter Senior Services office off North Salem Avenue. Park Avenue, on the west side of the park, will be closed from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday.