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Arts & Music

Funk Fest to bring food, fun and grooves to downtown Tampa

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Published:   |   Updated: May 3, 2013 at 03:42 PM

Get ready to wave your funk flag, Funk Fest 2013 is coming to Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park.

The festival, which moves to Tampa this year from St. Petersburg's Vinoy Park, will bring together eight acts for two days of funkalicious fun.

“All music originated from funk,” said Leo Bennett, 41, president and CEO of Variety Entertainment Inc., the Charlotte, N.C., based promoter of the Funk Fest tours. “We want to reach out to different age groups and generations so everyone can find the music they enjoy at one event.”

The funk-filled lineup kicks off at 7 p.m. Friday (gate opens at 5 p.m.) with the sounds of R&B group Jagged Edge and rapper Doug E. Fresh, before R&B headliner Keyshia Cole takes the stage.

On Saturday, the funky sounds continue at 5 p.m. (gates open at 3 p.m.) with 1980s urban contemporary group Lisa & Cult Jam and the SOS Band, rap duo Salt-n-Pepa and R&B soul crooner Anthony Hamilton closing the event.

Bennett promises an additional surprise guest Saturday, but that's all he would say.

Festival-goers can listen to continuous live music, while munching on cuisine from 15 food vendors that will serve up everything from chicken and ribs to fried fish and seafood, sandwiches and vegetarian dishes.

Four beverage tents will offer a variety of drinks including beer, wine, water and soft drinks.

The food and beverage tents will be set up at Kiley Gardens, adjacent to the park.

This is the fourth year for Funk Fest, which was moved to Curtis Hixon because of cost.

“Vinoy is a beautiful park, but financially, it didn't make sense,” said Bennett, who also works as a pharmacist for CVS. “It was paying for more house than I needed. (Curtis Hixon) is more intimate and a much better fit.”

The first Funk Fest got off to a wobbly start when the event ran out of water, and attendees were forced to battle long lines for food and Port-O-Lets; not to mention the sweltering heat.

“We learned from our first event,” adds Bennett, who also promotes similar festivals in Orlando, Jacksonville and Atlanta. “We're making sure we don't have a first year in Tampa like we did in St. Petersburg.”

Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park's 8 acres can hold 7,500 people. Bennett said he hopes to hit that number on both days.

In light of the recent bombings at the Boston Marathon, there will be extra security during the festival, Bennett said, including wands and pat-downs.

Visitors can bring lawn chairs, but no coolers or large bags, outside food or drink will be allowed into the venue.

Parking shuttles will be provided on both days for people parking in the Fort Brooke parking garage, at 107 N. Franklin St. A $5 shuttle charge will be collected per person for each ride. For a list of what you can and can't bring to the festival, visit www.funkfestconcerts.com

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