ST. PETERSBURG — All in all, the new recipe tastes good.
After a year’s hiatus, the Taste of Pinellas has returned, this time at a new location.
“The Taste of Pinellas is back,” said Scott Schecter, president of Bill Edwards Presents Inc., the company organizing the two-day festival, which is celebrating its 25th year. “So far, everyone seems to like what we’ve done. If anything, I see this growing the event because everything I’ve seen and heard has been positive. No one has said this needs to be back at Vinoy.”
Moved from Vinoy Park to Albert Whitted Park, Taste of Pinellas took a year off as organizers saw a drop in attendance and lack of interest, despite pulling in popular acts. This year’s edition featured Pat Benatar, Loverboy and Bruce Hornsby on Friday, while Saturday, KC and The Sunshine Band and The Blues Brothers featuring Dan Aykroyd and Jim Belushi will perform.
“I’ve been seeing Loverboy for a long time,” St. Pete resident Steve Georgieff said. “He’s a little heavier now, but they still sound really good.”
Loverboy performed hits “Hot Girls in Love” and “Working for the Weekend,” while Benatar and her husband, Neil Giraldo, enticed the large crowd with her ’80s hits “Heartbreaker” and “Hit Me With Your Best Shot.”
Saturday, Schecter expects to see about 10,000 people walk in and out of the gates. Proceeds from the event go to All Children’s Hospital.
Organizers were excited about the move because the stage has the water as a backdrop, though the setting sun behind the stage sometimes made it hard for patrons to view the acts.
“That’s some bright sun, but I like (Taste of Pinellas) a lot, even though this is the first time I’ve come to it,” St. Pete resident Stephanie Dean said. “My favorite part has been trying the drinks from the local places here in town, but you know I’m going to try the local food, too.”
Local foods included Crabby Bill’s from Indian Rocks Beach, Daiquiri Shak Raw Bar and Grill from Madeira Beach, The Hideaway in St. Petersburg, Madfish on St. Pete Beach, The Oyster Bar in St. Petersburg, Screwie Louie’s Bar and Grill also from Madeira, and The Hooker Tea Co. from St. Petersburg.
Some said they missed the Vinoy but also liked the new location.
“It’s just different is all,” said Largo visitor Angela Fisher, who was enjoying Loverboy and Pat Benatar with her young son. “We’re just used to that park, but there’s nothing to complain about here. It’s set up well and it’s great for families.
“Have you seen the kids’ area? It’s awesome.”