In February, 2017 Orlando Sentinel reporter Ryan Gillespie interviewed David…

David Ashenbrener’s retirement was supposed to be relaxing, and carefree.

Instead, the 63 year old spends hours daily crafting sculptures of sea turtles and sharks out of aluminum in his Leesburg studio.

He was one of about 300 artists from across the globe who flooded the quaint streets of Mount Dora to show their masterpieces at the city’s annual arts festival.

In its 42nd year, the festival attracts high-quality artists, and festival goers looking to walk away lighter in the wallet, artists say.

“The people who come here are buyers, you can tell they’re here to buy [art],” said Ashenbrener, whose prized piece is a 80-pound aluminum turtle, worth more than $20,000. “That’s really important for an artist. You don’t just want to just display your stuff, you’re not an art gallery … or a petting zoo.”

The festival annually brings about 250,000 folks to Mount Dora, and is the Lake County city’s largest event, organizers say. Marketing Director Kristina Rosenburg said festival goers account for roughly 1,400 hotel rooms and 85,000 visitors from out of state.