FORT PIERCE — The city of Fort Pierce’s annual tribute to the Florida Highwaymen artists and their contribution to the rich cultural history of Fort Pierce will be held Saturday, Feb. 18 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Moore’s Creek Linear Park in Fort Pierce.
The event will include booths for many of the “original” and second generation Highwaymen artists who will display and sell their art, as well as tribute booths for several of the deceased artists, food, novelty vendors, live music and the Kids Zone.
The annual event also includes an educational component for children in Fort Pierce middle schools to learn about the Highwaymen and to participate in an art contest leading up to the event. Cash prizes for first, second and third place will be announced at the event. The winners’ art departments will receive cash prizes and the winning artists will receive engraved medallions commemorating the event and gift cards. All of the contest entries will be on display in the Kids Zone.
The city is collaborating with the A.E. Backus Museum and Gallery, who will be hosting a Highwaymen Open House Weekend on Feb. 18-19.
The Highwayman Heritage Trail includes a stop at Pine Grove Cemetery, where local artist Anita Prentice recently completed beautiful mosaic replicas of paintings by Highwaymen Carnell Smith and John Maynor to cover their graves. Other Highwaymen artists buried at Pine Grove include Alfred Hair, Livingston Roberts and Johnny Daniels. Prentice previously created mosaic replicas of paintings for the graves of Hair and Roberts, and second generation Highwayman artist A.J. Brown created the beautiful mosaic that adorns the grave site of Daniels.
The self-guided Highwaymen Heritage Trail totals 10 stops with beautiful informative markers that capture the lives and times of these mostly self-taught landscape artists who have strong local, state, national and international significance. The markers, significant public art and informative website are chocked full of oral histories, professional research, video and dynamic images that help convey the plight, fortitude, entrepreneurial spirit and accomplishments of these late Jim Crow-era African American Florida Hall of Fame artists from Lincoln Park, an iconic minority neighborhood in Fort Pierce.
The trail and accompanying website — TheHighwaymenTrail.com — are part of a multi-year project underwritten by two grants from the Florida Humanities Council and the city of Fort Pierce’s contribution of more than $45,000, plus hundreds of staff hours.