TEMPLE TERRACE — Diana Valenti’s memory takes her back in time four decades ago as if it were only yesterday. She recalls standing at the stove in her kitchen for hours turning out gallon after gallon of her favorite chili recipe.
“I’ve never cooked so much chili in my life,” the longtime Temple Terrace resident said.
What’s peculiar about the scenario is that she never ate a bite of the stuff because she’s not a fan of spicy foods.
But those for whom is was prepared devoured every bit of it each of the three years she so painstakingly cooked it.
They were the attendees of the Temple Terrace Arts Festival that debuted in 1974 on the grounds of the Temple Terrace Community Church at 210 Inverness Ave.
Valenti and her late husband, Frank Valenti, who once served on the Temple Terrace City Council, partnered with fellow church members and art aficionado buddies Julia and John Ames to found and chair the event.
The one-day event, she said, attracted about 45 entrants, including several from out of state.
“We had some really good artists and a children’s section for whatever they wanted to enter,” Valenti said. “We had good crowds that came out and we felt pretty proud of ourselves for what we did.”
But when Julia Ames’ health began to fail, Valenti found it too big of a task to tackle on her own. In addition, the lack of adequate space for artists and parking for attendees was a growing concern.
As a result, the Temple Terrace Woman’s Club, in partnership with the Temple Terrace Junior Woman’s Club and the Temple Terrace Kiwanis Club, took it over in 1976.
They moved it to Riverhills Park and renamed the event the Temple Terrace Community Arts Festival.
In the years since, the Temple Terrace Arts Council has come on board along with the city’s leisure services department to spearhead what has evolved into a two-day affair that this year is expected to attract more than 100 artists from throughout the country.
The 40th annual Temple Terrace Arts Festival is slated to run Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the tree-canopied park at 329 S. Riverhills Drive, adjacent to the Hillsborough River. Admission and parking are free.
The juried event — with a purse of $6,000 in prize money to be awarded to various category winners — features fine art works that include watercolor, pen and ink, pastels, oils, mixed media and stained glass.
In addition, a cross section of contemporary crafts such as candles, jewelry, handbags, folk art and beaded glasses will be on display and for sale.
“With the holidays just ahead, it provides an opportunity to do some shopping and it’s a chance for people to meet the artists themselves,” said Anne Green, a longtime arts council member who for many years has assisted in organizing the event.
The creations of budding artists from several area schools entitled “Fresh Views” also will be showcased on clothesline-like ropes hung from tree to tree near the boardwalk bordering the river.
A Children’s Corner will offer the younger set the opportunity to have their faces painted and enjoy clay art, 3-D paper art and coloring.
Kimberly Constantine, the parent of a Greco Middle School student, also has offered to coordinate some kids’ activities related to the school’s STEM program, an acronym for science, technology, engineering and math. She, teachers, students and other parents will be on hand to assist children in operating the school’s remotely controlled robot, building with Legos and balancing nails.
In addition, there will be entertainment plus food vendors on hand to satisfy the appetites of most festivalgoers.
Each year, proceeds from the event are used to fund youth scholarships and art programs in the community, including a new arts camp at the Temple Terrace Family Recreation Center expected to kick off next summer.
Visit www.templeterra ceartsfestival.shutterfly.com for more information.