Published: Jan 08, 2011 5:40 AM EST
Updated: Jan 08, 2011 12:40 AM EST

CAPE CORAL, Fla.- A portion of downtown Cape Coral is shutdown, as hundreds of vendors set up for the city's annual Art Fest. The event is expected to draw in about 40,000 people this year.

Downtown Cape Coral is getting an all-new look. Traffic on Cape Coral Parkway is being turned away between Del Prado and Vincennes, to make room for the hundreds of artist booths lining the median.

"I think it's the biggest, most unique event in Cape Coral over the span of two days. It's an opportunity to bring some culture to the town," said Tim Hauck of the Cape Coral Rotary Club, which plans the event each year.

This year marks Art Fest's 26th anniversary in Cape Coral. The famous festival is known to attract thousands of art lovers each year, which translates to cold hard cash for vendors. But they say last year's big event was a bust.

"It was cold, rainy, the wind was blowing. Saturday there weren't alot of people out. I mean you could probably count them on one hand," Gainesville sculptor Haydn Larson said Friday.

But with beautiful weekend weather in the forecast, artists and downtown businesses are expecting some serious crowds. Sabatino's Pizza is gearing up by prepping 200 more pies than usual.

"We've been preparing all day long. Working all day, making pizzas, sauces, cheese," owner Chris DePaolis said Thursday night.

Downtown businesses say the annual event is a huge money-maker, many times doubling profits for the day. They say it's a great event for the Cape and local businesses banking on a weekend of family-friendly fun.

"I think it's going to be great for my business. Great exposure, going to sell a lot of pizzas hopefully!" DePaolis said.

Art Fest kicks off Saturday morning starting at 10am. The event runs through Sunday. Admission is free of charge.