Sarasota and the surrounding areas offer a raft of holiday activities ranging from boat parades to myriad festivals to tree lightings and traditional caroling, yet for those who prefer to step out of the box (or mall), we are also host to the annual Atomic Holiday Bazaar.
A $5 fee buys you admission to the Sarasota Municipal Auditorium and a visual feast of handmade gifts. For those looking for something unusual or eclectic for that hard-to-buy-for friend or relative, look no further. In the words of the Atomic founder and organizer Adrien Lucas, “Atomic has always had a bunch of beautiful talent in the show….but this year’s Atomic will kick indie-craft ass. The vendors are off-the-charts-talented.” And edgy.
The first booth stopped me dead in my tracks — a host of motley fox, dear, and other wild sculptural creatures made of fabric, many sporting bat wings. Other left-of-center displays included men’s ties made from palm wood, silly rabbit crafts, cloth dolls (which reminded me of those old Midway games where you attempted to knock over stuffed dolls made of canvas), Day of the Dead mugs and dishes, and holiday doggie apparel. The diverse crowd of hundreds was eating it up.
On the more traditional side of Christmas gifting were leather journals, colorful ornaments, handmade soaps and jellies, air plants and globes, oil paintings, ceramic bowls, t-shirts, vintage clothes, and Christmas toys. I came away with a yoga tee and a bowl for a friend.
Right next door, and free of charge, was another event — Art in the Garden sponsored by the Sarasota Art Center. Thirty-some booths lined the park next to the Atomic venue. Here things were a bit more subdued although I did admire some exquisite ceramics designed after weed spores. The area also had several food trucks lined up with BBQ seemingly the most popular.
Both events made for one bizarre bazaar — a terrific salute to creativity and whimsy.
The Sarasota Spectator
Our Sarasota Spectator is Betsy Miller, a retired high school teacher and college professor. Originally from Columbus, Betsy has fallen in love with the Gulf Coast of Florida, especially Sarasota. Blogging about the area has been a creative outlet for the writer, opening up an avenue of exploration. You may find the bon vivant enjoying happy hour at a tiki bar, shopping on historic Main Street, or seated at a concert or show at a local theater. Chances are you also might find her buried in a book on one of our beautiful beaches. Asked to give one word about her feelings for Sarasota, Betsy replied, “Smitten.”