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A few weeks ago I was in the midst of another busy day at the office. Between tirelessly typing up stories, transcribing interviews, updating layouts, and staring pensively out my large fourth story office window overlooking the lush treetops along North Palafox, I took a brief respite to check my Instagram feed when I noticed an odd pattern. Several friends had posted pictures of themselves posing in various spots around Downtown with small, colorful paintings that had been placed throughout the streets, free to anyone who came across them.
Sensing a lead on a unique story as well as a possible free thing for myself, I quickly grabbed a coworker and launched an investigation. The Instagram photos led us on a madcap scavenger hunt down Palafox, along Government and back up Jefferson Street. We ended up finishing the hunt slightly sweaty and empty-handed, but I nevertheless appreciated the whimsical jaunt that turned all of Downtown into a semi-secret art gallery, and broke up an otherwise ho-hum day at the office.
It’s this kind of surprise that makes Downtown special to me. Despite seeing it almost every day, I still view it as a playground, where even as the editor of a Downtown publication I may not know every single thing going on each day. There are still treasures to be found, whether that means a literal Instagram-led treasure hunt through the streets or just rediscovering your favorite festival.
Two of my own favorite festivals are returning in September and though they bookend the month, they go hand in hand in my heart (and tummy). The Emerald Coast Beer Festival is the first weekend and the Fiesta of Five Flags Seafood Festival is the last, and both will serve up a huge crop of delicious offerings! For beer drinkers, the big tasting at Seville Quarter will have more than enough unique brews to find your favorite style. Seafood Fest will bring its usual array of music, art and all manner of seafood stylings, filling Seville Square to Bartram Park with its signature goodness.
September also brings a particularly stuffed Gallery Night, which will feature both a public wedding and CANstruction, a competition that showcases architectural talent through competitive building of structures made entirely from canned goods. On Sept. 19, don’t miss the surprises, art, music, food and familiar faces that will fill the streets.
One familiar face you’ll likely see is that of artist Rafi Perez, who is always in front of Seville at Artists Row on Gallery Nights. Rafi is the outspoken artist that placed the series of paintings around Downtown and then hinted at their locations via social media. Also in this month’s issue, DTC spoke with Rafi about his work as one of the growing number of artists and innovators intent on keeping things interesting here in Downtown.
Questions? Comments? Story ideas? Please email Emily Lullo at Emily@ballingerpublishing.com.