ART Cultural

Located at the center of the most beautiful city in South Florida, the Merrick Festival is just the kind of cultural whirlwind you’ve been thirsting for. Right across from City Hall, this little production definitely hit the spot. The area was an enriching celebration, with all types of art work for sale contained within little white tents packed tight against one another, each one with drastically different artistic styles. One could see such varied styles as abstract art, whimsical paintings appropriate for a young child’s room, sensual paintings of scantily clad women, an all-Cuban tent which contained oil paintings as well as vintage prints, and tons more. Oil paintings mostly prevailed, though jewelry, ceramics, accessories from India, orchids, and even food could be found.

Ahh yes, the food. On Saturday, the food tent was featuring Tuscan Cuisine from the province of Pisa, Italy. The main feature was their Risotto, a rice platter resembling the popular Paella of Miami; only it was made with white rice and some sort of miraculous seasonings and sauces yielding heaven on a plate. Made on a mammoth pan of about four feet in diameter, the scrumptious meal lasted the day, but for four bucks a pop, it’s a miracle that it did.

As if all this weren’t enough, a stage at the center of the festival was constantly in action. The festival featured dance and theatre productions for adults and children, pop groups, and even the Miami Bach Society and the Coral Gables Opera. The festival lasted from April 17 through 19 from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Even though the art tents closed at 7 p.m., the festival didn’t stop there — at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday night they set up a large screen in front of City Hall free and open to the public, where they played foreign films. On Saturday, they presented Cinema Paradiso, an Italian Oscar-winning film by Giuseppe Tornatore which went rather well with the Italian Cuisine. On Sunday they played a 1966 French film called Un Homme et Une Femme (A Man and A Woman), directed by Claude Lelouch, which also complimented the French cuisine featured that day.

This compact, dense little cultural affair was delightful in all aspects. It was a refreshing dip into international cultures. If you missed it, all is not lost; this fanciful, ethnically drenched event takes place every year at around the same time, so make sure you don’t miss it again.

Deborah Acosta can be contacted at