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Inaugural Epcot International Festival of the Arts in Review

This past weekend, I had the pleasure of attending the Inaugural Epcot International Festival of the Arts and was really impressed! My uber talented friend and fellow artist, Katherine Young, came to visit and attend the festival with me. This new event combines visual arts, performing arts, live statues, chalk arts and over 75 dishes and drinks for the culinary arts. Think of it as a cross between the retired Festival of the Masters and a mini Food and Wine Festival. Yes, I only attended one time, and on one of the last days, of this incredible event spread over 6 weekends. But I blame that on cancelled rendezvous with friends and a really busy schedule. In hindsight I wish I had gone every weekend and I cannot wait for it to return next year. For a quick review, the food was amazing, the art was beautiful and the artists were welcoming and genuine.

First, let’s start with the artists…the main inspiration behind the festival. Everyone we stopped to talk to were nice and genuine. My favorites were Jerrod Maruyama, Joe Kaminski and Don Williams. Those last two are my coworkers so I have to mention them! But really, they were the best. Everyone was representing their work and eager to sign any prints or trinkets that were purchased. Katherine and I got our photos with Jerrod and chatted a while about our own projects and aspirations.

Also there were galleries of original artwork from Mary Blair and Herb Ryman. It was a real treat to see Mary Blair’s chalk drawings!

Speaking of chalk, there were also chalk drawings in the park. We only got to see this one, but I’m sure there were others around the festival. This particular one turned 3-D when taking a photo. I believe the upper part was a fabric piece that looked flat with the naked eye. We also checked out the Living Portraits where we became part of the painting!

Now, on the food! Sadly, because we were there only once, we did not get to sample everything, but we pretty much covered all the photo worthy desserts. First was the Deconstructed Purple Sweet Potato Pie. This dessert was beautiful and delicious. I describe it as modern art meets gourmet restaurant, visually appealing, not too sweet, and an excellent combination of flavors and textures. Then we tried the Pop’t Art, the Almond Frangipane Cake, the Artist Palette Jumbo Chocolate Chip Cookie and the Cloudem Silver Sparkling Wine. The Pop’t Art was basically just a sugar cookie. A little blah and very sweet. However, the chocolate hazelnut filling inside saved it. On the other hand, the Almond Frangipane Cake was really good. The filling layers are raspberry jam and the coatings are two different chocolates. It was a very tasty dessert and was worth a second slice! Our last sweet treat was the chocolate chip cookie. It was just that: a huge chocolate chip cookie with some primary color icing on top and a plastic paint brush. The idea was to paint with the icing, but the hot sun quickly dried it out. However, we did get to play with the colors and make some tertiary colored icing! Aside from the simplicity of the cookie, it was quite good…and huge! Several people can split this thing quite easily. My question is: what did they do with all the cut out cookie circles? I’m picturing a cookie party for the culinary Cast! The accompanying Cloudem wine was really beautiful. It reminded me of those glitter slime tube toys from the 90’s. We spent more time holding it up to the light and swirling it than we did actually drinking it! The Cast Member serving us explained that the bottles can be bought for only $17 in the France Pavilion. I will be buying one of these bottles soon!

Then we found this beauty! It’s an all-chocolate easel and painting with an abstract painting of Figment. Soooo cute and so picture-worthy. However, due to the heat and the sun, I suggest either eating it right away or buying it at the end of the night if you want to take it home un-melted. There was also a Mary Blair version in The Painter’s Palate. Such a cute idea!

Now for the food and drink I wish I had tried. If these items are available next year, I definitely want to try them! The Popping Bubbles Cocktail and the Shrimp Ceviche with Lime Mint Foam from the Pop Eats! Booth, the Flank Steak Guarache from the El Artista Hambriento Booth in Mexico, and the Trio of Savory Croissant Doughnuts from the Painter’s Palate. Next year, I will definitely attend more weekends!

A couple of things we didn’t get to do included watching the Broadway performers sing and doing the little scavenger hunt called Figment’s Brush with the Masters. However, we did find this awesome frame and painting with figment coming out of the volcano….and later figured out it was part of the hunt. We did walk away with the Festival of the Arts t-shirt and bag though!

And lastly, Katherine did "art drops" around the resort. Pictured here are two of her drops in Epcot. You can follow her Instagram at katersbonneville to see more.

I can’t wait for next year’s Festival of the Arts. I will certainly visit more often!

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