Mount Dora prepares for huge art festival crowd

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MOUNT DORA, Fla. - The city has spent millions just down the street there and over the next several hours, the art show booths will start going up.
 

Artists from all around the country will be in Mount Dora on Friday night setting up shop for the city's 39th annual Arts Festival.  
 
Russ Bellamy, a professor of art at Leesburg's Beacon College, was the first one in town.
 
"It's a great honor to be a featured artist here," said Bellamy.
 
Bellamy was assembling his latest sculpture in Donnelly Park. 
 
Around 900 artists applied to get into the show and 294 made the cut. 
 
"We pay attention to the quality of the art that comes to the show, so people know they're going to see the highest-quality art when they come here," said festival organizer Beth Miller.
 
Festival officials said 250,000 people will stroll the streets of the historic downtown over the weekend, pumping millions of dollars into the local economy.
 
Those visitors will be able to enjoy the city's multimillion-dollar makeover. The first phase of the project features new, wider sidewalks, new underground utilities and a pedestrian mall. The project was designed to boost business in downtown Mount Dora.
 
"Our downtown visitors and our residents really love it," said Kelda Senior, with the city of Mount Dora.
 
The cool, rainy weather the central Florida has been experiencing is expected to move out and make way for sunnier, warmer weather. Festival officials said they've experience bad weather before, and that even in bad weather the festival draws big crowds.