With a not-so-cool breeze sweeping off the channel between the trendy apartment buildings on the north end of Harbour Island, a monthly festival offers a quaint mix of arts, crafts, eats and music, with downtown Tampa serving a backdrop.
The Harbour Island Waterfront Music and Art Fest takes place on the last Sunday of each month. The crowds are small and vendors number in the dozens, not the hundreds like other art festivals around town.
That makes it appealing for some, including Sonia Pearce and Nyla Espinola, both Tampa natives, who showed up for the first time at the festival Sunday afternoon along Harbour Post Drive.
“We like to get out,” Nyla says.
“And we like art shows,” Sonia chimes in.
The pair samples a variety of chutney relishes at Surinder’s Kitchen as Surinder Dhaliwal chats them up, offers recipes and tells them her own story of how she made different chutney-flavored spreads with her dad in England and India when she was a child.
“And,” she says, “I grew up hating them.”
After moving to the United States, she again began making chutney and passing jars around to friends, who encouraged her to make more and experiment with flavors. Now, it’s her passion, she says.
The retired elementary school teacher travels around to events like this, dishing her wares to people with refined tastes. She travels to festivals in Hyde Park and Seminole Heights as well.
Around the corner, 6-year-old Nyla Nobles sits patiently; well as patient as a kid can be while she is getting Rapunzel painted on her bicep by artist Trista Durchik.
“She’s my first customer,” Trista says of the freckle-faced child with a long, blond braid dangling down her back.
The daughter of a fellow vendor and a regular customer of Trista’s Face Painting, Nyla keeps showing the artist a picture of Rapunzel on her iPhone so Trista can get it right.
“Last time,” Nyla says, “I got SpongeBob.”
“No,” Trista says, “last time you got flowers and butterflies. The time before that, you got SpongeBob.”
Music from Busted Blues is carried by the breeze that tickles the stand of wind chimes, hand made by Jan Stephens, who along with her husband, Jim, creator of a variety of metal lawn ornaments, come here from Ridge Manor in Hernando County.
It’s their first time selling their work on Harbour Island.
“My wife read about it,” he says, as prospective buyers, entranced by the chimes, study his art work. Will the Stephens return next month? He’s shrugs.
“Depends,” he says, “on how we do today.”